Posts

Tarnawa returns with impressive Leopardstown victory

Triple Group One-winning mare Tarnawa made a thoroughly impressive return to action in the Grant Thornton Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown.

Dermot Weld’s stable star enjoyed a spectacular and unbeaten campaign in 2020, landing back-to-back Group One victories in France before providing her trainer with a first Breeders’ Cup win at Keeneland.

Making her first competitive appearance since the last of those triumphs in November, Tarnawa appeared to face a relatively straightforward task in Thursday’s Group Three feature – and ultimately got the job done with the minimum of fuss.

The five-year-old was fresh during the preliminaries, with her groom briefly taking a tumble when leading her out on to the track, and she had to be loaded into the starting stalls without jockey Colin Keane on her back.

Once the gates opened, however, the 1-2 favourite was as good as gold – travelling well in midfield for much of the mile and a half contest before readily moving on to the heels of the leaders rounding the home turn.

Once given her head, the Shamardal mare quickened six and a half lengths clear of Silence Please, who was in turn 13 lengths ahead of the third-placed Hector De Maris.

Weld said: “It was her first run back after a long absence – and as you could see, she was carrying a few kilos extra compared to last year.

“I had to be extra careful with her after the wonderful dry spell that we’ve had, and my only concern was that I may have left her a little too short.

Dermot Weld was delighted with Tarnawa's comeback
Dermot Weld was delighted with Tarnawa’s comeback (Niall Carson/PA)

“She has not been away to a racetrack and has done all her work at home. I’d have loved to have got her away about two weeks ago, but it just wasn’t possible.

“She has been training extremely well at home and has probably strengthened since last year.

“I thought she was very impressive. She is a wonderful mare, becaue she won the Breeders’ Cup Turf on firm ground and two Group ones at Longchamp on heavy.

“She just cruised there tonight.”

Paddy Power trimmed Tarnawa’s odds for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to 7-1 from 8-1. Dual Oaks-winning filly Snowfall and Derby and King George hero Adayar are the top two in the market, at 3-1 and 4-1 respectively.

Weld confirmed the Arc as Tarnawa’s major target, with the Irish Champion Stakes back at Leopardstown next month considered the most likely stepping-stone to Paris.

“The Arc is the plan and the main reason for keeping her in training, while the Irish Champion Stakes probably fits into the programme,” the trainer added.

“The Prix Vermeille would be a possibility, but the Irish Champion is probably favourite for her next race.

“This year’s crop of horses look outstanding, and she has joined an outstanding team of horses to look forward to in the autumn.”

Tarnawa expected to improve for Ballyroan return

Tarnawa makes her eagerly-anticipated return to action in the Grant Thornton Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown.

Dermot Weld’s star mare enjoyed a spectacular and unbeaten campaign in 2020, landing back-to-back Group One victories in France before providing her trainer with a first Breeders’ Cup win at Keeneland in November.

Tarnawa has not been seen since the latter of those triumphs, but will be a extremely short odds to pick up where she left off under Colin Keane in Thursday’s Group Three feature – although her trainer has sounded a cautionary note.

Speaking on Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast, Weld said: “We’re very, very happy with her. The only thing is she’s done herself extremely well through the summer and she’s just carrying a bit more than I’d like condition-wise for her first run.”

On deliberately giving her a long break before her return, the Rosewell House trainer said: “It worked really successfully for her last year (started in August) – she won her two Group Ones in France and the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and I thought we’d kind of follow a similar pattern.

“But possibly because we’ve had a very, very dry and warm summer in Ireland and the ground has been pretty firm I would have liked to have got a bit more work into her. But I’m happy with the filly physically and mentally.

“I suppose she’s bigger and stronger in many ways, but I just want to warn I would like to have her a shade fitter than she is going into the race.

“Last year I had her very forward, and she put up an excellent performance at Cork and won her Group race well. She’s in great form again this year, but possibly not quite as advanced in her training.

“It’s a long road all the way into November, so we’re ‘hasting slowly’. She’s just not quite as forward this year as I had her last year.”

Among the opposition to Tarnawa is Aidan O’Brien’s Wembley – runner-up in the Dewhurst to his high-class stablemate St Mark’s Basilica last year and exclusively campaigned in Group One company so far this season, most recently in the Prix Jean Prat.

Irish Lincolnshire winner Lafayette represents Noel Meade, with Joseph O’Brien sending out Queen’s Vase fourth Benaud.