‘Absolute star’ Tarnawa heads for retirement

Dermot Weld’s high-class mare Tarnawa has been retired to the paddocks.

Three times a winner at the highest level, the Aga Khan-owned and bred five-year-old attempted to repeat her victory of 12 months ago in the Breeders’ Cup Turf last weekend, but finished down the field from a wide draw.

She will be remembered as one of the best mares of recent years and came agonisingly close this season to winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, one of the very few major Flat races in Europe still to elude Weld.

In typical Weld style she was brought along slowly, failing to win at two, albeit she did pick up black type when second in Listed company.

She was out early at three, winning her maiden in April and adding a Group Three in May. Unplaced in the Oaks at Epsom, the daughter of Shamardal was given a mid-season break before a good end to the campaign, winning another Group Three before adding the Blandford Stakes.

While she was unsuited by soft ground at Ascot on her final start at three, at four she excelled, going unbeaten in four races.

An easy winner of the Give Thanks Stakes first time out, she went on to win the Prix Vermeille, Prix de l’Opera and the Turf at Keeneland.

This year had seen the Arc as her big target, although she did come close in the Irish Champion Stakes, and it looked like Weld was finally going to cross the Paris showpiece off his list until the outsider Torquator Tasso came from behind to win.

She retires having won nine of her 18 races and almost £3,500,000 in prize-money.

Pat Downes, manager of the Aga Khan’s studs in Ireland, said: “She got back on Wednesday and we’d had a chat since the race on Saturday, we decided it was time to retire her now and welcome her to the broodmare brand.

“She’s been an absolute star over four seasons. She has been so consistent and seldom let us down when she raced. This year, I suppose, was a bit frustrating – but in defeat she has run some tremendous races and the Arc maybe took a bit more out of her than we might have realised.

“Going to Del Mar, coupled with the trip over there, just might have taken the edge off her. But she has been a tremendous mare for us.

“I suppose last year’s Breeders’ Cup would be a highlight, but going to France and winning the two Group Ones was a highlight as well.

“She didn’t win her first Group One until last year but, as a three-year-old, she won Group Threes and a Group Two and was such a consistent filly. It was a great pleasure mapping out a campaign for her.

“She was one of those fillies that rarely ever let us down, and they are rare.”

Tarnawa will return to Gilltown Stud in Kilcullen, County Kildare, and Downes added: “It’s exciting. We look forward to judging who she might visit.

“Those discussions will take place in the coming weeks and we will see where we end up.”

Weld anticipating a tough task as Tarnawa chases Breeders’ Cup double

Dermot Weld is under no illusions about the task facing Tarnawa as she bids to become only the third back-to-back winner of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.

The Rosewell House handler is no stranger to international success, making his mark Stateside when becoming the first European to win a Triple Crown race with Go And Go in the 1990 Belmont Stakes.

Weld also has two Melbourne Cups and a whole host of other races on the world stage on his illustrious CV, but a Breeders’ Cup win had eluded him until Tarnawa’s brilliant display under Colin Keane at Keeneland 12 months ago.

The trainer himself did not make the trip to Kentucky due to coronavirus restrictions, but nevertheless enjoyed the success from his home in County Kildare.

“It was a special occasion. My son Mark was there, and I watched the race with my wife Mary and my second son Kris,” said Weld, who has travelled to California this year.

“We were expecting a good run, but winning was an extra bonus. It was exciting – it was late in the evening, and we enjoyed it immensely.

“I’ve always enjoyed the challenge (of travelling horses) – in the early days, I probably was one of the first to travel horses across the world. We won the first international race run in Hong Kong and then we were very fortunate and won two Melbourne Cups.”

Tarnawa was completing a top-level hat-trick at Keeneland last season, following a pair of Group One triumphs at ParisLongchamp.

Dermot Weld at Del Mar
Dermot Weld at Del Mar (PA)

A year on, the daughter of Shamardal will defend her crown after successive defeats – although she has lost little in finishing second in both the Irish Champion Stakes and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, just being denied by Torquator Tasso in the latter.

Weld added: “She’s a very brave filly, very tough and genuine and she gives 110 per cent every time she runs. She was tired for a week after Paris, so we let her have a nice easy time and freshened her up.

“A win in the Arc would have been special. She fought like a lioness, and unfortunately we just came up short.

“I don’t think the ground beat us in the Arc. She ran a superb race. I just think she had very little room to manoeuvre – and a very, very good horse beat us on the day. But he got a clearer run on the outside than we did.

“I think she’s equally good (as last season). I actually think she could be a slightly better mare this year – she’s developed every year and is training a couple of kilos heavier than last year.”

Tarnawa will start from stall 11 as she tries to follow in the hoofprints of previous dual winners High Chaparral and Conduit, with Weld admitting the prospect of a very fast surface is a worry.

He said: “I’m well aware what (ground) we are going to face is going to be a lot quicker (than last year), and it is a concern.

“I think it’s what makes a really true champion – if they can defend their crown on different surfaces a year apart.

“It will be a big challenge – a bigger challenge than last year, I believe. But equally she is a really, really good racemare that responds to every challenge she gets.

“She’s a very professional racehorse with a wonderful constitution, and that’s what enables me to travel her to different countries – her strong mental attitude and great constitution.

“I actually think luck in running will decide this race – if Colin can manoeuvre from where he’s drawn, that will be our biggest challenge.

“We’ve just got to get lucky, get the breaks and things go her way.”

Tarnawa leads a European challenge that also includes Roger Varian’s Teona, who missed the Arc on account of the testing conditions in Paris.

As a result, the daughter of Sea The Stars – who is drawn in stall 10 – will be making her first competitive appearance since inflicting a shock defeat on Snowfall in September’s Prix Vermeille.

“Her races didn’t go to plan earlier in the year,” said Varian.

“She ran in heavy ground and had traffic problems, but we left her alone – and she’s come back very strongly.

“She’s in great form and comes out here peaking at this time of year – she didn’t have a busy summer. She’s a fresh filly – she hasn’t run since the Vermeille and proved herself to be a very good filly there.

“It’s all a bit of an unknown quantity after they hit the gates, but the good thing about her is she’s a natural athlete and she travels. She’s capable of staying on the bridle, and that counts for a lot.

“The Turf is obviously a very strong race, but I think she is fully deserving of her place and we’re looking forward to it. Hopefully she can get a good position, and we’ll take it from there.”

Japan will bid to provide Aidan O'Brien with another Turf success
Japan will bid to provide Aidan O’Brien with another Turf success (Nigel French/PA)

Aidan O’Brien has won the Turf on a record six occasions, with High Chaparral’s successive wins followed by victories for St Nicholas Abbey, Magician, Found and Highland Reel.

The Ballydoyle handler declared four for this year’s renewal, with Japan and Broome making the initial cut and first reserve Bolshoi Ballet getting a run after the well-fancied Domestic Spending was withdrawn. Mogul remains on the reserve list.

Japan’s last two starts have been in America, with a runner-up effort in the Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga followed by a sixth-placed finish in Belmont’s Turf Classic.

O’Brien said: “We’re delighted with him. His last two runs were very good, and he just got chopped off in his last two races.

“He’s very well, and we’re very happy with him and we’d be looking forward to seeing him run.

Broome is also in the mix
Broome is also in the mix (Nigel French/PA)

“Broome won his Group One in France and has been very consistent really through the season.

“He needs to break well, because we would be very happy to lead.

“The thing about Bolshoi Ballet is he’s got plenty of experience out here.”

Charlie Appleby also saddles two runners who have experience of North American racing, with Jockey Club Derby victor Yibir joined by Canadian International-winning stablemate Walton Street.

“Walton Street is at the grand age of seven now and he’s one of the yard favourites,” said the Moulton Paddocks handler.

“He put up a good performance in Germany on his first start after a break, finishing just behind the eventual Arc winner Torquator Tasso, and then put up a dominant performance in Canada.

“He deserves to be there; he might not be good enough to win it, but he won’t look out of place.

“Yibir started the season running in Classic trials and running well, but not running the most straightforward races you’d like to see.

“He was gelded before the summer and won the Bahrain Trophy. He then disappointed us again at Goodwood, so we changed our tactics and and left the hood on at York, where he won the Great Voltigeur.

“The plan after that was always to head to New York for the Jockey Club Derby, and he won it well.

“That was a ‘Win and You’re In’ race to the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He goes there as one of the youngsters – but if he brings his A game, he’s going to be very competitive.”

Tarnawa ‘in super order’ for Breeders’ Cup Turf assignment

Dermot Weld admits Tarnawa will have to be at the top of her game to defy a wide draw and defend her Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf crown.

Weld made no secret of the fact her whole season this year was aimed around trying to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – one of the few major races worldwide still to elude the master trainer.

Her campaign did not begin until August when she won a Group Three easily, before she went out on her sword in a thrilling Irish Champion Stakes over a trip arguably short of her best.

It was then on to Paris when Tarnawa put up a brave display on very testing ground, only to find German outsider Torquator Tasso three-quarters of a length too good.

The ground in California this weekend will be far removed from that which she raced on in Paris – a factor Weld has already flagged as a concern – and she also has to break from stall 13, meaning Ireland’s champion jockey Colin Keane will have to be at his very best.

Weld said: “I’m very pleased with her. She travelled well and is training good. I couldn’t be happier with her.

“Drawn 13 is very difficult. Of all the tracks in America, it’s very difficult from this draw, but she’s in super order and we’ll take it as it comes.”

Tarnawa ‘all set to go’ – but Weld harbours ground concerns for Breeders’ Cup repeat

Dermot Weld’s “main concern” about the prospect of a Breeders’ Cup repeat for Tarnawa is ground conditions at Del Mar on Saturday week.

The Aga Khan-owned mare produced a brilliant performance under Colin Keane to win the Longines-sponsored Turf at Keeneland last year, but her trainer feels the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up would appreciate at least some ease in the ground in California – something that might not be forthcoming.

Weld – who confirmed Keane would be reunited with the daughter of Shamardal – said: “She’s a very brave filly, she’s very tough and genuine. She gives 110 per cent every time she runs. So obviously she came back from Paris and was tired for a week.

“I let her have a nice easy time and freshened her up. I took my time getting her back and I’m very happy with her work over the past week. I think she’s come right back, her weight is good, her blood picture is good and she’s all set to go.

“The main concern I have will be the ground, I appreciate that she handled what we would call good to firm ground in Kentucky, but they had rain you must remember earlier that week. I actually thought the turf track from what I heard and the reports I got was that is was just really nice ground, just on the quick side of good is what we would have called it.

“I’m well aware what we face is going to be a lot quicker and it is a concern – our good to firm or firm ground, I don’t think that is quite as firm as what I expect to find in Del Mar to be quite honest.”

On Keane being back aboard after Christophe Soumillon was in the saddle at ParisLongchamp, Weld said: “Colin will ride in the Breeders’ Cup. After all he did win on her last year, he won on her on her comeback start in August and gave her a perfect ride from what we planned in the Irish Champion Stakes.

“Christophe won two Group Ones on her last year and rode an excellent race on her in the Arc, it wasn’t her fault that she was beaten. He is the retained rider in France for His Higness, whereas Colin Keane rides most of my horses in Ireland.”

Weld added there is a possibility Tarnawa could run in Hong Kong, should all go well in America – and that would be her last career start.

He said: “This will be her last season, she is entered in Hong Kong and that would be reviewed after she runs at the Breeders’ Cup.”

Weld wary of firm ground but delighted with Tarnawa’s Del Mar preparation

Firm ground is Dermot Weld’s biggest worry for Tarnawa’s bid for back-to-back victories in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar next month.

The five-year-old lifted the 12-furlong Group One at Keeneland in Kentucky last year on ground described as firm, but the meeting will be staged on the Californian coast this year.

Tarnawa was last seen when beaten three-quarters of a length by surprise winner Torquator Tasso in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, in what was a thorough test on heavy ground at ParisLongchamp.

Weld is satisfied with Tarnawa’s recovery since that run at the start of the month, though, and she has pleased with her homework since.

“The Arc took a fair bit out of her, but she’s an amazing animal with a wonderful constitution and huge determination,” Weld said.

“After a week when she was tired, she has bounced right back, and I was pleased with a bit of work she did the other morning.

“She flies out with the other Irish and English contingent, about 35 horses altogether, next Friday.

“The track is going to be my biggest concern. It’s where the surf meets the turf, and it’s very firm.”

Sessa success highlights Keane hat-trick at Leopardstown

Duke De Sessa came from the clouds under an inspired Colin Keane to claim Group Three honours in the Eyrefield Stakes at Leopardstown.

Down the field in the National Stakes on his latest appearance, Dermot Weld’s youngster was an 11-2 chance to get back on the winning trail and complete a treble on the day for the champion jockey.

The son of Lope De Vega was almost last rounding the home turn, but showed an impressive turn of foot once angled wide at the top of the straight to run down his rivals and prevail by half a length.

Piz Badile and Anchorage finished second and third respectively.

Weld said: “That was very pleasing. He’s a lovely colt, still immature, and he’ll make a lovely colt next year. There is lots to look forward to.

“Hopefully he’ll come back for a Guineas trial and I see him potentially as an Irish 2,000 Guineas horse.

“He just had to wait there to get him out and get him balanced and he came home exceptionally well.

“He has a lot of pace this horse and the lovely thing about him is that he has stamina as well.

“He’ll be a lovely mile or mile-and-a-quarter horse for next year, please God.”

Masen was an all-the-way winner
Masen made every yard of the running (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Keane opened his account aboard Jessica Harrington’s 9-4 favourite Nectaris in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Nursery, before steering Masen to an all-the-way victory in the Listed Knockaire Stakes.

Sent off the 2-1 favourite after finishing second at this level and winning a Leopardstown handicap last time, Ger Lyons’ runner was in charge from the off, seizing an early advantage that he did not relinquish despite tiring slightly at the finish.

Masen came home two and a quarter lengths clear of a decent yardstick in Njord and assistant trainer Shane Lyons expects the three-year-old to develop into an even better horse next year.

He said: “It’s a job well done. He’s a work in progress and hopefully he’ll have a nice winter and mature mentally.

“If he winters well, and there is no reason why he won’t fill into a man, we think he is a very good horse.

“Ger will have a chat with Barry (Mahon, Juddmonte’s racing manager) and the Abdullah family and make a plan. Colin thinks the world of him, as do we.

“Every race that he has run in he’s shown a bit of class and he’s improving with each race.

“The winter can’t come soon enough so he can have down time and mature. We’re really looking forward to him next year, we think he’s a proper horse in the making over seven furlongs or a mile.”

West Coast was a winner at the third time of asking
West Coast was a winner at the third time of asking (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Aidan O’Brien and Seamie Heffernan teamed up to take the first two races, headed by West Coast (7-2) in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden.

A Dark Angel half-sister to the classy Just Wonderful, West Coast was making it third time lucky as she saw off 15-8 favourite Perfect Thunder by three and three-quarter lengths.

Heffernan said: “To be very honest, I couldn’t see her getting beaten on either of her last two runs, but maybe she was greener than I thought or maybe I just gave her two bad rides.

“I was on the best filly in the race, and she’s genuine, so I just let her rip along.

“She has the makings of a nice filly.”

Star Of India impressed Heffernan with his victory
Star Of India impressed Heffernan with his victory (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Star Of India (5-1) earned Classic quotes as he brought up the double in the following Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.

A Galileo half-brother to 2013 Phoenix Stakes victor Sudirman, Star Of India made short work of his 11 rivals, impressing Heffernan with his two-and-a-quarter-length verdict and earning a 33-1 quote with Betfair for next year’s 2000 Guineas.

Heffernan added: “He’s a grand staying type of horse. We went a good gallop there and I stayed going well, I liked him.”

French exam for Search For A Song

Search For A Song has further Group One honours in her sights as she heads to ParisLongchamp next Sunday for the Prix Royal-Oak.

The five-year-old is a dual Irish St Leger victor and trainer Dermot Weld is eager to have a crack at the French version of the staying race, which is contested over just short of two miles in Paris.

The mare could finish only sixth when bidding for a third Irish Leger last month, but returned to winning form with a nine-and-a-half-length romp in the Loughbrown Stakes and after bypassing a couple of options on Champions Day at Ascot, Weld hopes the French going will suit.

He said: “Search For A Song will go for the Prix Royal Oak next Sunday at Longchamp.

“She’s won two Irish St Legers so let’s see if she can win a French St Leger. We did it before with Vinnie Roe who won four Irish St Legers.

“She’s in great form. She was very good the last day in the Curragh and we just hope they don’t get too much more rain in France.”

Tarnawa heads 14 Arc contenders

Ante-post favourite Tarnawa is one of 14 contenders to stand their ground for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Monday’s initial forfeit stage.

Dermot Weld’s mare heads the market for Sunday’s 12-furlong showpiece, after winning a Group Three on her return this season and then pushing St Mark’s Basilica all the way in the Irish Champion Stakes over an inadequate mile and a quarter last time out.

Paddy Power have the five-year-old as their 5-2 favourite, ahead of Derby and King George hero Adayar – who is due to supplemented for the race on Wednesday.

He is one of two planned contenders for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin along with St Leger victor Hurricane Lane, who is already entered in the race.

Aidan O’Brien has last year’s star filly Love and Group One winner Broome among the 14, although his Oaks winner Snowfall is another who is expected to be added to the contest later this week.

She suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Roger Varian’s Teona in the Prix Vermeille on her latest outing, and the pair could renew their ParisLongchamp rivalry.

St Leger runner-up Mojo Star, who is handled by Richard Hannon, and the William Haggas-trained Alenquer complete a formidable British and Irish line-up at this stage.

Home hopes currently rest with Baby Rider, Sealiway and Bubble Gift – with Raabihah also in the mix, although she holds an alternative entry in the Prix de l’Opera on the same card.

William Haggas' Alenquer is also on course for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
William Haggas’ Alenquer is also on course for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Steven Paston/PA)

Japan’s pair of Chrono Genesis – the mount of Oisin Murphy – and Prix Foy winner Deep Bond add an extra international element, with German runner Torquator Tasso the other possible at this stage.

There is a second forfeit on Tuesday, before supplementary entries on Wednesday – and final declarations for the Group One are on Thursday.

Soumillon counting down the hours to Tarnawa

Christophe Soumillon is eager to renew his partnership with Tarnawa in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The brilliant Belgian teamed up with the Dermot Weld-trained mare to win both the Prix Vermeille and Prix de l’Opera last term and was due to be aboard Tarnawa at the Breeders’ Cup before a failed Covid-19 test scuppered his participation.

Colin Keane stepped in for Soumillon at Keeneland and steered Taranawa to a length victory, staying in the saddle for her two runs so far this year.

The five-year-old won the Ballyroan Stakes on her reappearance, and lost little in defeat to St Mark’s Basilica in an epic Irish Champion Stakes, beaten three-quarters of a length after the pair came close in the finish.

Soumillon – in Group One-winning form on Saturday with Perfect Power – will be on the daughter of Shamardal at ParisLongchamp, as he is the retained rider in France for owner the Aga Khan. And he can hardly wait.

He said: “Tarnawa is a great filly. I was very lucky to ride her twice last year in Longchamp and won on her twice.

“I was really pleased with her first run this season and last time she ran really great. Unfortunately, she got beat probably by the distance (10 furlongs) and the winner hung a bit towards her.

“Dermot Weld is probably one of the greatest trainers in the world and I’m sure he focussed on that race (the Arc) 200 per cent.

“For the Aga Khan team and His Highness himself, I’d be delighted to bring back another Arc trophy.”

Soumillon won the Arc for the Aga Khan with both Dalakhani (2003) and the magnificent filly Zarkarva (2008), and Tarnawa is the 5-2 favourite to make it a hat-trick for the team.

Soumillon set to be reunited with Arc favourite Tarnawa

Dermot Weld has announced Christophe Soumillon will ride Tarnawa in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday week.

The five-year-old currently heads the market for the ParisLongchamp showpiece after being beaten three-quarters of a length by St Mark’s Basilica in the Irish Champion Stakes earlier this month.

She was ridden by Colin Keane that day, as she had been in her two previous outings when winning the Ballyroan Stakes on her reappearance and the Breeders’ Cup Turf at the end of last year.

Keane was a late replacement for Soumillon in America, with the rider ruled out after testing positive for Covid-19.

Soumillon had previously ridden Tarnawa to win both the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Opera and he will reclaim the mount as he is the retained rider in France for owner the Aga Khan.

Weld told the Irish Times: “Christophe Soumillon will ride Tarnawa in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He knows the filly well and he is His Highness’ retained jockey in France.”

Tarnawa is the general 11-4 favourite for the Arc ahead of Derby hero Adayar, who is a 4-1 shot.

Song searching for Irish Leger hat-trick

Search For A Song is reported to be in rude health ahead of her bid for a third victory in the Comer Group International Irish St. Leger.

Trainer Dermot Weld has won the Curragh Classic on nine occasions in all, with Vintage Crop landing back-to-back renewals in the 1990s and Vinnie Roe securing four consecutive renewals between 2001 and 2004.

Having struck gold as a three-year-old in 2019 and successfully defended her crown 12 months ago, hopes are high that Search For A Song can complete the hat-trick on Sunday, having been saved for the race since finishing fifth in the Tattersalls Gold Cup in May.

Fiona Craig, bloodstock and breeding adviser to owners Moyglare Stud Farm, said: “All is good. I saw her at Rosewell House on Friday and her coat is like silk.

“Dermot has aimed her for this and rather kept her for it. She’s in great nick and looks fantastic.

“It’s a tough race, but I think she’ll run her usual good race.

“It would be something special to win it for a third time – we’ll dream.”

Search For A Song is one of 14 runners declared for the one-mile-six-furlong contest, with Joseph O’Brien firing a three-pronged assault.

Twilight Payment has an excellent record at the Curragh
Twilight Payment has an excellent record at the Curragh (PA)

The Owning Hill handler runs six-times course winner and Melbourne Cup hero Twilight Payment, as well as the prolific Baron Samedi and Master Of Reality.

Johnny Murtagh steps Sonnyboyliston up in class following his lucrative success in the Ebor at York last month.

He said: “He’s going well, he came out of the Ebor really well and we’re looking forward to seeing how he gets on in this.”

Weld looking to Tarnawa to break Irish Champion duck

Dermot Weld has yet to win the Irish Champion Stakes, but he will be heading to Leopardstown on September 11 with exceedingly high hopes for Tarnawa.

Weld, who went close with Free Eagle in 2015 when he was unfortunate behind Golden Horn in finishing third, could not be happier with his stable star.

She will arrive on a five-race winning streak which includes two Group One victories in France and a famous Breeders’ Cup success.

Tarnawa has only run once this season, when winning the Ballyroan Stakes easily, as Weld builds her up for a crack at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Weld said: “We’re hopeful. At the top end it’s always difficult to get the stars as competition in world racing is so keen at the very top.

“We were unlucky a couple of years ago that we didn’t win it with Free Eagle as he got a bump off Golden Horn which cost him the race.

“She’s got a very good chance, she’s second-favourite for the race and a worthy second-favourite and I expect her to give a good account of herself.

“I thought she was magnificent (at Leopardstown), did everything very professionally and got a very confident ride off Colin Keane.”

After Leopardstown, all roads lead to ParisLongchamp, with Golden Horn the last horse won win both races in the same season.

“There’s no reason why she can’t (go on and win the Arc) but I’m equally aware of the strength of the opposition this particular year,” Weld told Horse Racing Ireland.

“I think we’ve walked into one of the most competitive years there’s been recently from a ratings point of view.

“Apart from the obvious other fillies (Snowfall and Wonderful Tonight) there are some outstanding, progressive three-year-old colts (Adayar) that will make it into a wonderful race.”

Point Lonsdale posts emphatic victory in Futurity Stakes

Aidan O’Brien’s leading juvenile Point Lonsdale continued his seamless career progression so far as he remained unbeaten with a dominant display in the Group Two Galileo Irish EBF Futurity Stakes at the Curragh.

Point Lonsdale, previously successful in his maiden over this course and distance, the Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot and then a Leopardstown Group three last month, was a 1-6 favourite to take another rise in class in his stride.

The Australia colt duly did so, assuming control from an early stage under Ryan Moore and easily maintaining and ultimately stretching his advantage to win by more than four lengths from Maritime Wings.

Point Lonsdale took care of the same opponent on his previous appearance, and his Chesham form had been substantiated earlier in the day when runner-up Reach For The Moon was a decisive Group Three winner at Sandown.

Bookmakers responded to his latest demonstration of superiority by shortening him half a point into 3-1 for the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, while he also retains his grip at the head of the market for both the 2000 Guineas and Derby.

O’Brien quickly confirmed, however, that Point Lonsdale’s next assignment will be a third appearance over this same course and distance – in next month’s Group One Vincent O’Brien National Stakes

The Ballydoyle trainer said: “We’re delighted with him. He’s a lovely, straightforward horse.

“He relaxes, he quickens – and his head goes down to the ground when you ask him. He’s happy to go in front, but if someone wants to lead him, great. When you want him he quickens. He’s a classy horse.

“He wouldn’t like that (yielding) ground – he wants good or better to be ideal, because he’s a lovely mover.

“He’ll come back here for the National Stakes – that’s the plan.”

Agartha was an all-the-way winner of the preceding Group Two on the card, for the two-year-old fillies in the Alpha Centauri Debutante Stakes.

Declan McDonogh bounced Joseph O’Brien’s Agartha out in front – and as the race developed, she always had matters under control to win by two lengths as the 4-1 co-favourite of four.

The daughter of Caravaggio, racing for the sixth time in a busy campaign, was unable to win a maiden in four attempts but sprang a surprise in a Leopardstown Group Three last month – and confirmed her improvement over the same trip here.

Sunset Shiraz, the only maiden in the eight-strong field, stayed on from off the pace to get closest to the winner – but Agartha was in no danger from the 25-1 outsider.

O’Brien’s assistant Brendan Powell said: “She’s unreal, she’s tough – and Declan said she seems to go on any ground.

“Last time out he made plenty of use of her, and he’s done the same today. You could see them trying to come at her one by one.

“Shane (Crosse) was on the other one (fourth-placed stablemate Seisai) and said they went a proper gallop.

“She seems to stay well – she gallops well and puts her head down. Most of all. she’s an absolute trier.

“I know most were over shorter trips, but it makes you wonder how she didn’t win her maiden. You don’t mind that, with what she’s done now!”

Dual champion jockey Colin Keane had a treble in the bag after the opening three races – all juvenile maidens.

Both Eclat De Lumiere and Straight Answer were successful on their respective racecourse debuts, and then Duke De Sessa was an emphatic winning favourite on his second career start.

Dermot Weld’s well-bred filly Eclat De Lumiere struck late down the middle of the track in the Stallion Farms EBF Maiden, for a half-length success from favourite Benitoite at 7-2 – in the colours of Moyglare Stud.

Juddmonte’s Kodiac colt Straight Answer, trained by Ger Lyons, took control of the DMG Media Irish EBF Maiden mid-race on the way to a length-and-a-quarter victory as 15-8 favourite from Rhea Moon.

Then Keane completed his treble, and a double for Weld, when 6-4 shot Duke De Sessa proved far too good for the opposition in the Coolmore Arizona Irish EBF Maiden – winning by almost five lengths.

Weld confirmed his high opinion of the winner, and Classic aspirations next year.

He said: “He’s a lovely colt.

“He was probably unlucky not to win in Galway but he’s progressed from that and learned from that day. You could call him a winner a long way down there.

“He’ll have one more run this year in a Group race. I’ll speak with (owner) Maurice Regan and see which one we’ll pick.

“He’s a very smart colt and a lovely horse to look forward to – a potential Guineas horse for next year.”

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.