Racing Greats to be Honoured by NUI Galway during Galway Race Week

Monday, 14 July 2014

L-r: Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger
L-r: Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger

Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger to be conferred with Honorary Doctorates

NUI Galway has announced the names of two recipients of 2014 Honorary Degrees. At a special ceremony in the University on the biggest day in Irish racing, NUI Galway will honour two leading lights from the world of horse racing on Wednesday, 30 July. Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger will both be conferred with Degrees of Doctor of Arts (honoris causa) on a day when the infamous Galway Plate takes place.

NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, speaking in advance of the conferring ceremony, said: “With the sporting world’s attention on Galway and Ballybrit this week, we are proud to celebrate the horse-racing heritage of our city by recognising two of Ireland’s greatest racing trainers and breeders. Jim Bolger and Dermot Weld are global figures in the world of horse-racing. They have distinguished themselves as breeders, trainers and leaders of the sport and in so doing have burnished Ireland’s global reputation as a centre of the equine industry. NUI Galway is delighted to recognise their achievements by awarding them the highest honour which the University can confer, at a special ceremony during the Galway Racing festival.”

Dermot Weld one of Ireland’s most renowned and successful racehorse trainers, at home and abroad will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Arts (honoris causa). He has trained the winners of twenty-two European Classic races and remains the only trainer outside of the US and Canada, to have won a leg of America's famous Triple Crown. Dermot has won races at both the Cheltenham Festival and at Royal Ascot and has enjoyed success at both meetings this year.

Australia has been a country of note in Dermot's career with two wins in the race that stops a nation the Melbourne Cup. Dermot was the first trainer based in the northern hemisphere to win this most prestigious race when Vintage Crop stormed to victory in 1993.

To date, Dermot has trained in excess of 3,700 winners.

A qualified Vet, Dermot was a leading amateur rider and was crowned Champion on three occasions. He also rode winners in South Africa, the UK, France and in the US. Dermot was along serving Director of the Irish National Stud and also served on the board of the Irish Horseracing Authority. In 2001, Dermot was presented with the Charter Day Medal from University College Dublin. He is currently in his second term as a Director of Leopardstown Racecourse. In 20l1 he was made an honorary member of the Galway Race Committee.

Jim Bolger will be conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Arts (honoris causa). In a remarkable career that has spanned five decades, at 71 years of age, he remains one of the single most iconic figures in the game.

The Wexford native at the age of 35 years left his job in finance and began his training career in a yard at Clonsilla near the old Phoenix Park training ground. A farmer’s son who first dabbled in buying and selling show-jumpers, Bolger possesses rare vision and an insatiable work ethic, a trait that he has always sought to instil in his horses as he earned an enduring reputation that isn’t simply one of high-standards and meticulousness.

A master of his profession and a born leader, his revered genius is as evident in the characters he has nurtured as it is in the champion racehorses that he has trained. Paul Carberry, Willie Mullins, Peter Scudamore and his now son-in-law Kevin Manning all emerged from his famously uncompromising academy. Since moving to Coolcullen’s Glebe House in Co Kilkenny in 1982, he has developed one of the most acclaimed and sophisticated private training centres in the world which has defined his enormous contribution to Irish racing’s globally-renowned status.

Thirty years ago, Give Thanks secured him a first Classic victory in the Irish Oaks, and it is in racing’s uber-commercial Flat sphere that the self-made and inherently autonomous entrepreneur has continued to break down barriers and set the standards for others to aspire.

The two graduands join the ranks of previous honorary alumni which include from the world of sport, Christy O Connor Snr and Jnr and Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh among many others such as, Nelson Mandela, Hilary Clinton, Enya, Anjelica Huston and Fionnuala Flanagan.

 -Ends-

Keywords: Press

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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