NUI Galway conferred honorary degrees on two outstanding members of the Irish horse racing world on Wednesday, Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger.
Dermot Weld is one of Ireland’s most successful racehorse trainers, at home and abroad, and was conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Arts honoris causa. To date, Weld has trained more than 3,700 winners, including winners of 22 European Classic races and winners at the Cheltenham Festival and at Royal Ascot.
Introducing Mr Weld, Dr John Newell, Senior Lecturer in Biostatistics at NUI Galway, reminded guests on Galway Plate Day, the highlight of the Galway racing festival, how synonymous this trainer is with Galway. “His attachment to the festival began when, as a nine-year-old, he led his father's horse, Highfield Lad, into the winner’s enclosure after victory in the Galway Plate. Six years later, Dermot rode his first ever winner, steering Ticonderoga to victory in the
Galway Amateur Handicap.Dermot holds the record of 17 winners over the seven days and won the Leading Trainer award for the 27th time last year. So dominant has he been at Ballybrit over the last two-and-a-half decades, Irish bookmakers, Paddy Power suggested renaming the Galway Races to the ‘Dermot Weld Retirement Fund’.”
Jim Bolger (71 ) was also conferred with a Degree of Doctor of Arts honoris causa, and has nurtured the careers of many of Ireland’s leading racing figures, like Paul Carberry, Willie Mullins, Peter Scudamore, and his now son-in-law, Kevin Manning. At Coolcullen’s Glebe House in Kilkenny, Mr Bolger has developed one of the most acclaimed training centres in the world. At the age of 35, the Wexford native 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, Mr Bolger possesses rare vision and an insatiable work ethic.
NUIG president, Dr Jim Browne, speaking at 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 reputation as a global centre for the equine industry.” w2ef423