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Coltor claims top honours for Weld on first day of Galway Festival

Coltor and Finian Maguire snatched the spoils in the valuable Connacht Hotel (Q.R.) Handicap to deny Aubrey McMahon a third victory in the day one feature at Galway.

Maguire himself had ridden subsequent Group One scorer Princess Zoe to victory 12 months ago, while McMahon had partnered Whiskey Sour and Uradel to win in 2017 and 2018.

When McMahon hit the front on Foveros, like his two previous winners trained by Willie Mullins, he looked sure to win, but Maguire pulled Dermot Weld’s Coltor out from in behind and his mount quickened well.

Sent off a 14-1 chance, it was Weld’s first victory in the race since Midnight Music in 2012.

Coltor went on to win by three-quarters of a length with a further length and a quarter back to Harry Fry’s Litterale Ci in third.

Weld said: “I thought he’d run very well last time out at the Curragh but by the time the last race came, the ground was gone very heavy and testing and that’s not for him. It was beautiful ground today, on the slow side of good.

“Finny was with me for a couple of years, is a very talented guy and has been in France riding successfully for the past six weeks. He came back especially to ride today and this is the owner Mischa Bucher’s, son of Eva Haefner of Moyglare Stud, first horse.

“I thought coming down in the car that a two-mile handicap at York in the middle of August would be a plan for him. York is now the immediate target.

“He’ll go jumping at Leopardstown at Christmas time, he never wants the ground too heavy.

“It was a lovely race to win, it has been a very lucky race for me as a trainer and I won it four times as a amateur jockey, starting as a 15 year old.”

The opening Claregalwayhotel.ie Irish EBF (C & G) Maiden went to Michael O’Callaghan’s I Am Magic (15-2).

Despite finishing in front of Aidan O’Brien’s Anchorage last time out, that one was sent off the 5-4 favourite but the form was confirmed as Leigh Roche made all on I Am Magic.

I Am Magic (left) just held on in the opener for Leigh Roche
I Am Magic (left) just held on in the opener for Leigh Roche (Niall Carson/PA)

“It was a lovely performance, he is a nice horse and we thought a lot of him. The plan was to make every post a winning post and he got the fractions right,” said O’Callaghan.

“He travelled very strong, has plenty of natural pace and Leigh said he was just getting lonely in front. It is tough to make the running here, but we’ve found it a way of keeping things simple as well.

“We think he’ll improve again, will get a mile and we’ll step him up to Stakes company now. He has a Futurity Stakes entry but we’ll look at a few options in the UK as well.”

Black Cat Bobby (14-1) prevailed in a tight finish to win the Claytonhotelgalway.ie Handicap for Ciaran Murphy and Gavin Ryan.

Black Cat Bobby (right) arrives late on the scene to win
Black Cat Bobby (right) arrives late on the scene to win (Niall Carson/PA)

“He loved the hill and hung on and I’m over the moon with the horse. We thought plenty of him as a two-year-old but he grew and was backward, so we minded him along,” said Murphy.

“He’ll have an entry for the weekend and see how he is.”

Jessica Harrington and Shane Foley got off the mark for the week when Maud Gonne Spirit was an 18-1 winner of the Galwaybayhotel.com & Galmont.com Handicap.

“She has frustrated us up until now. We were baffled by her runs compared to her work and we fancied her once or twice but she ran bad. It all worked out today. ” said Foley.

Foley and Harrington also struck gold with Citronnade (7-1) in the Eventus Handicap.

Dylan Browne McMonagle once again advertised his talents when winning on Joseph O’Brien’s Merroir (6-1) in the Easyfix Handicap.

Dettori rises to the occasion with Chester Cup masterclass

He may be 50 and by his own admission only motivated by the big occasions these days – but Frankie Dettori proved again that when it matters there are not many better as he plotted a route to tote+ Chester Cup glory on Falcon Eight.

The Dermot Weld-trained top-weight was slowly away, meaning Dettori was faced with the conundrum of taking his medicine at the back of the pack or rushing up around the outside.

He decided to drop in to save ground and it proved an inspired move, although it also helped that when push came to shove with half a mile to run he was sat on the best horse.

Dettori had ridden Falcon Eight – who hails from an illustrious Moyglare Stud family – to win at Sandown two years ago and also rode him later that year in the Prix du Cadran. That knowledge certainly helped as he knew when to press the button.

“I had to go to Plan C. I know he’s not the fastest away and they went fast, so I just thought ‘well, I’ve got to take it’,” he said.

“The pace was honest throughout, but I was able to take a pull and I saved ground by going all the way to the back. When we got to three and a half (furlongs) out I peeled off and went two or three wide.

“I was able to sling shot around the turn and in fairness he picked up. I know he was lumping 9st 10lb, but he is a Group horse really.”

It was that manoeuvre that won him the race. Dettori found himself in the clear and with over a furlong to run the result looked inevitable, as Falcon Eight powered down the centre of the track.

“He was so much on top at the finish Dettori was able to coast over the line, winning by two lengths.

Weld does not make a habit of booking the Italian, but when he does it is a tip in itself.

“Dermot always had this race in mind – he booked me three weeks ago – and he’s a master at these kind of things. He made my life easy,” said Dettori.

“It’s a bit like Australian racing with its short straight here, because you are on a stayer, you’ve got to get them going early between the three and the two.

“In fairness this horse can be lazy at times, but today he’s shown a good turn of foot. Maybe the headgear worked, but he’s a different horse to the one I rode in the past.”

Weld was not on the Roodee to elaborate on plans, but Falcon Eight’s days in handicaps are surely over having defied a mark of 104, meaning a step back up in class looks inevitable.

Falcon Eight swooped down the centre to win going away
Falcon Eight swooped down the centre to win going away (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He won a Listed race (at Sandown), but maybe we over-faced him too quickly after that by running in the Prix du Cadran and races like that, but he’s matured now and he’s worth another go in some Group races,” said Dettori.

“I’m sure Mr Weld has plenty of good plans for him.”

Incredibly it was exactly 30 years since Dettori last won the Chester Cup, on Star Player in 1991. And the importance of such races are not lost on him.

He said: “I don’t remember it (first Chester Cup) – I hope I don’t have to wait another 30 years!

“It’s so hard to win these races. We all have plans but with so many runners on a tight track, you have to readjust. I just had to let the race unfold.

“The only thing I was worried about was that I had so many horses to pass, but the pace was honest throughout and I was able to make a move going past the four-pole.

“He can be very lazy at times and I thought if he hit one of his flat spots it will be hard to get him going in this short straight, but in fairness, he did pick up well today and I always had the race won from one out.

“I was saving ground until about half a mile out, but I started to make a move and then three out I thought ‘right, we’ve got to go now, we’ve got to get going’.

“I got some momentum going at the top of the bank and when we sling-shotted down.”

He makes it all sound so easy.

Falcon swoops in Chester Cup under inspired Dettori

Frankie Dettori ended a 30-year wait for his second victory in the tote+ Chester Cup aboard Dermot Weld’s Irish challenger Falcon Eight.

Out of the same mare that produced the top-class Free Eagle and dual Irish St Leger heroine Search For A Song, Falcon Eight was a 15-2 chance as he made his handicap debut under top-weight on the Roodee.

Dettori, who won the 1991 Chester Cup aboard Star Player, produced a typically well-executed ride aboard the Moyglare Stud Farm-owned six-year-old – keeping his powder dry in midfield for much of the two-and-a-quarter-mile feature.

The popular Italian allowed his mount to make inroads ahead of the home turn before switching wide, after which Falcon Eight powered up the straight to win comfortably by two lengths.

The Grand Visir filed the runner-up spot, with Hochfeld third and Coeur De Lion fourth.

Dettori said: “I had to go to Plan C. I know he’s not the fastest away and they went fast, so I just thought ‘well, I’ve got to take it’.

“The pace was honest throughout, but I was able to take a pull and I saved ground by going all the way to the back. When we got to three and a half (furlongs) out I peeled off and went two or three wide.

“I was able to sling shot around the turn and in fairness he picked up. I know he was lumping 9st 10lb, but he is a Group horse really.

“Dermot always had this race in mind – he booked me three weeks ago – and he’s a master at these kind of things. He made my life easy.

“It’s a bit like Australian racing with its short straight here, because you are on a stayer you’ve got to get them going early between the three and the two.”

He added: “I don’t remember it (first Chester Cup) – I hope I don’t have to wait another 30 years!”

Falcon Eight set for Chester Cup but Almighwar an absentee

Dermot Weld’s Falcon Eight heads the field for Friday’s tote+ Chester Cup Handicap, with ante-post favourite Almighwar an absentee.

John and Thady Gosden’s charge headed the market for the two-and-a-quarter-mile showpiece after finishing second on each of his two runs this year, but he did not feature among a maximum field of 17 for the handicap feature.

Falcon Eight, who will be partnered by Frankie Dettori, will carry 9st 10lb with dual-purpose performers Who Dares Wins and The Grand Visir also towards the handicap summit along with Themaxwecan, one of five runners for Mark Johnston.

The Kingsley House team also fields Lucky Deal, Hochfeld, Trumpet Man and Rochester House.

Who Dares Wins is one of two for Alan King along with Coeur De Lion, while The Grand Visir will be joined by fellow Ian Williams inmates Cardano and Reshoun.

Hughie Morrison’s classy hurdler Not So Sleepy takes his chance, with Rare Groove, Nate The Great, Future Investment, Glencadam Glory and Blakeney Point the other contenders.

A field of 14 goes to post in the consolation tote+ Chester Plate Handicap, with Mancini and Elysian Flame topping the list.

Five runners have been declared for the Melodi Media Huxley Stakes, including the Aidan O’Brien-trained Armory.

The four-year-old was last seen finishing a creditable second to former stablemate Sir Dragonet in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October.

Easter Classic first and second, Bangkok and Palavecino, represent Andrew Balding and Brian Meehan respectively, with Sangarius and Bharani Star completing the line-up.

Dermot Weld adopting patient approach with star performers

Dermot Weld is in no rush to make concrete plans for his star fillies Tarnawa and Search For A Song.

Tarnawa enjoyed a spectacular campaign in 2020, winning each of her four starts including Group One wins in the Prix Vermeille, the Prix de l’Opera and the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Search For A Song was more of a slow burner, but peaked at the right time to successfully defend her crown in the Irish St Leger in September, before rounding off her season with a runner-up finish in the Long Distance Cup on Qipco Champions Day at Ascot.

“I’m in no hurry with the fillies and there will be lovely warm days later on for Tarnawa. Search For A Song has also wintered well and is in super form,” said Weld.

“Nowadays, with so much big racing in the second part of the year, I tend to hit our peak in September, October, November.

“I’ve no plans at present where they will start off as it’s a long year and I’m in no hurry with them.”

Dermot Weld with Search For A Song following her second Irish St Leger success
Dermot Weld with Search For A Song following her second Irish St Leger success (PA)

The master of Rosewell House is pleased with the overall strength of his team, even if he has less horses in training than in the past.

He added: “We have a quality team of horses this year, much less in numbers by design, but hopefully more quality than quantity.

“We are a couple of weeks behind some of the stables in fitness, but it’s a long year and we tend to get better as the year goes on.”

Turf victor Tarnawa to race on in 2021

Tarnawa will stay in training next season, with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe a long-range target.

The daughter of Shamardal was unbeaten in four starts this term, with her final three triumphs all at Group One level, including trainer Dermot Weld’s first ever win at the Breeders’ Cup meeting in the Turf.

Weld told the Irish Times: “The plan is for Tarnawa to stay in training next year, which is good news. We will look forward to training her for (an) autumn campaign again, which will hopefully include the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

“She has improved each year, from two to three to four and it’s quite possible she could improve even a little bit more.

“She is very versatile in terms of ground and is an exceptionally talented filly.”

Colin Keane looks back with pride on season to remember

Colin Keane has finally had time to reflect on a stellar season which was capped with a first Breeders’ Cup success on Tarnawa.

Keane admits getting the ride on Dermot Weld’s filly was simply a case of being in the right place at the right time – but with all bar one rival behind him turning into the straight, he advertised his talents on a world stage.

The landmark victory came on the back of him being crowned Ireland’s champion jockey for a second time – after a thrilling battle with Shane Foley – in a year in which he also rode his first two Classic winners on Siskin and Even So for his boss, Ger Lyons.

“It couldn’t have gone much better and winning at the Breeders’ Cup was just brilliant,” said Keane of 2020.

“The year started off with us winning a Classic with Siskin and then it went from strength to strength. We were lucky enough to win another with Even So, I won the Matron on Champers Elysees, winning the battle to be champion and topping it off with a Breeders’ Cup winner.

“Thankfully it all fell right for us. It was a hard year, especially giving up two weeks with quarantine (to ride Siskin in the Sussex Stakes), so we really had to knuckle down, but it was worth it.”

Siskin provided Colin Keane and Ger Lyons with a first Classic winner in the Irish 2000 Guineas
Siskin provided Colin Keane and Ger Lyons with a first Classic winner in the Irish 2000 Guineas (PA Wire)

Keane cannot speak highly enough of Lyons, for whom Siskin and Even So were his first Classic successes, too.

“I’ve been riding for the right people, I ride for a great boss so I’m very lucky,” said Keane.

“I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without Ger to be honest, he got me going and has brought us to where we are.”

While Keane’s agent Ruaidhri Tierney cast his net far and wide in the search for winners in the closing weeks of the season, one trainer who did not employ the champion was Weld – yet when Christophe Soumillon was ruled out at the 11th hour having tested positive for Covid-19, it was Keane who was called upon.

Colin Keane punches the air after coming round the whole field to win on Tarnawa
Colin Keane punches the air after coming round the whole field to win on Tarnawa (Darron Cummings/AP)

“It was just a case of being in the right place at the right time last weekend,” said Keane.

“It’s not the way you want it to happen, but I’ll take it. Mr Weld isn’t someone I’ve ridden for much to be honest, so to get a ride in a big race and win on her for him is great.

“We’d talked about it (tactics) and while we didn’t make a plan as such, Mr Weld said he wanted me to either be on the inside or the outside, but not the middle – as she’s a filly who likes a bit of space and she has a very good turn of foot.

“Turning in I wasn’t looking to go between them, I just wanted to give her as clear a run as possible and she picked up very well.

“You’d like to think she’s up there with the best about, it is very hard to beat Magical, she’s one of the very best, rock solid and never runs a bad race. Going there you’d be thinking if you’re second to Magical you’ve run a good race. It takes a very good one to beat her.”

With two titles already in the bag, Keane is hopeful of keeping his momentum going into next season and he even picked up rides for Aidan O’Brien’s powerful Ballydoyle stable in the closing weeks.

“Every year we set a target to beat the previous year’s tally – I didn’t think that would be possible this year because of Covid and my quarantine, but my agent did a great job in getting me on the right horses and we got into a great rhythm,” explained Keane.

“It was September it all seemed to click, I had over 20 winners and it really got me going. I was lucky enough to team up with Aidan towards the end on a few spares with Seamie (Heffernan) suspended and Wayne (Lordan) injured and thankfully some of them won.

“I’ve a lot to thank my agent for, he’s done a very good job.”

Weld uncertain of future plans for Turf victor Tarnawa

Dermot Weld is unsure what the future holds for Tarnawa after the filly provided him with his first Breeders’ Cup victory at Keeneland on Saturday.

The master of Rosewell House has enjoyed huge success on the international stage, with a pair of Melbourne Cup victories and multiple top-level wins in America featuring on his illustrious CV – but a Breeders’ Cup winner had so far eluded him.

However, Tarnawa put that particular anomaly right in spectacular style in Kentucky – and speaking from his County Kildare yard on Sunday morning, Weld spoke of his immense pride and delight.

“The Breeders’ Cup Turf is always one of the best races in the world and it was lovely to win it,” the trainer said on Racing TV’s Luck on Sunday programme.

“It feels exceptionally good – the Breeders’ Cup was the one major event I wanted to win a big race at.

“Nowadays I train 80 horses, so it’s a much smaller team than most of the opposition, so you’ve got to pick your spots very carefully and very well.”

Tarnawa’s chances of success had seemingly suffered a significant blow in earlier in the week after jockey Christophe Soumillon, who had steered her to successive Group One wins in France this autumn, was forced to miss the ride after testing positive for Covid-19.

However, recently-crowned Irish champion jockey Colin Keane proved a more than able deputy.

Dermot Weld was thrilled with Tarnawa
Dermot Weld was thrilled with Tarnawa (Brian Lawless/PA)

Explaining the sequence of events, Weld added: “Keeneland is a very tight turf track and it’s nice to know your horse as you need everything in your favour when you’re going into a race like the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

“She always breaks slowly, so we decided on Thursday that we’d school her out of the stalls on the track and arranged with Christophe Soumillon to do that, which he duly did.

“She jumped out nicely for him, Christophe was delighted with her, but an hour later I heard he was positive for Covid-19, so we needed a replacement jockey.

“I was extremely satisfied with my filly and the decision was whether to go for an American rider or wait and get a European rider.

“Javier Castellano has ridden winners for me and was available, Frankie Dettori was riding in the race (on Lord North) and I just thought ‘why not go with Colin Keane’. He was out there, he was riding in the Mile beforehand and he’s an outstanding young rider.

“Colin has only ridden for me once before, at Cork – usually he’s riding against me.”

Weld admitted the success was tinged with sadness as he thought of his former stable jockey Pat Smullen, who died earlier this year following a long battle with cancer.

“The only aspect of the great victory of last night that was sad was thinking how much Pat would have enjoyed riding Tarnawa,” said Weld.

“They were basically made for each other because she’s a tough filly and a classic stayer with speed – she’s the sort of horse that Pat rode exceptionally well.”

On whether Tarnawa will return to race on as a five-year-old in 2021, the trainer added: “No decision has been made on whether she will be retired or whether she’ll be racing again next year.

“We’ll see how she comes out of the race. His Highness (Aga Khan, owner) has a history of retiring fillies at the end of their three or four-year-old career, so whether an exception will be made for her or not, I don’t know.

“She’s an amazing filly in that she won on very fast ground in America last night and she’s won on very heavy, testing ground a few weeks ago in Paris.”

Tarnawa and Keane swoop for Turf glory

Dermot Weld and Colin Keane teamed up to great effect as Tarnawa stormed to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland.

Crowned champion jockey once again in Ireland, Keane was replacing the luckless Christophe Soumillon, who also missed a winning ride on Order Of Australia in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. It was his first ride for veteran trainer Weld, who was also enjoying his first Breeders’ Cup success.

Tarnawa could have gone for the Filly & Mare Turf, but connections chose this stiffer task for the in-form three-year-old, who had won the Prix Vermeille and Prix de l’Opera on her last two starts for her owner the Aga Khan.

Keane had her at the back of the field as Channel Maker and United set the pace, with Aidan O’Brien’s Magical in a handy position not far off the lead.

Channel Maker set sail for home at the top of the straight, but the pack closed in a furlong out with Keane producing Tarnawa with a perfectly-timed run that saw her keep Magical at bay by a length. Channel Maker was another length away in third.

Weld’s son, Mark, said: “It doesn’t get any bigger than this. These overseas prestige races in the autumn are what we train them for and I’m sad my dad is not here, but the Covid situation put paid to that.

“It was Colin’s first ride for us and there were no instructions. We left it completely up to him and as soon as I saw Colin pull her out, it was a like a jet seeing a runway and off she went.

“My father has been a long-standing supporter of American racing ever since Go And Go won the Belmont back in 1990. He worked in the United States as a boy and it’s very special to him.”

Keane said: “Mr Weld gave me a call and told me what was happening, and then he rang again today and said it would have been lovely if I’d sat on her before, because she takes a bit of knowing.

“They had worked with her at the stalls while she had been here and when I spoke to Oisin Orr he said the filly had done one of her pieces of work before she left Ireland.

“It’s been a brilliant year, it’s lovely to get this victory going home and it’s definitely the icing on the cake for the year we’ve had.”

O’Brien hunting seventh Turf triumph with Magical and Mogul

Magical and Mogul give Aidan O’Brien a formidable hand as he goes in search of a seventh victory in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.

It is 18 years since High Chaparral provided the Ballydoyle handler with his first triumph in the mile-and-a-half contest. Twelve months later, the same horse dead-heated with Johar in an epic finish.

O’Brien has since added to his tally with St Nicholas Abbey (2011), Magician (2013), Found (2015) and Highland Reel (2016) and appears to have an excellent chance of adding to his tally at Keeneland on Saturday.

Magical has previous at the Breeders’ Cup, having pushed the great Enable to three-quarters of a length in this race two years ago.

She was set to be retired after winning last year’s Champion Stakes at Ascot, but returned for another campaign and has won another three Group Ones to take her top-level total to seven. She finished third when defending her Champion Stakes crown three weeks ago.

“Magical was going to go to No Nay Never, but at the start of the year the lads had a chat. We said how well she had done over the winter – physically she really changed – and we felt it was worth letting her have another year,” said O’Brien.

“We’re delighted we made that decision. We felt it was right as she was sound and her mind was very good.

“We started to race early in the year and she went from race to race. She’s an amazing filly and we’re lucky to have her.”

Stablemate Mogul has not been seen in competitive action since running out an impressive winner of the Grand Prix de Paris in September, having since missed an intended outing in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe due to a well documented issue with contaminated feed.

“He’s in good form. Obviously, he’s had a busy year. I suppose his last run was his most impressive when he won the Grand Prix de Paris on a bit of nice ground,” O’Brien added.

“He travelled very well, quickened well and we were pleased with how he came out of the race.”

Dual Group One-winning filly Tarnawa bids to provide Dermot Weld with his very first Breeders’ Cup success.

Tarnawa (left) represents Dermot Weld
Tarnawa (left) represents Dermot Weld (Niall Carson/PA)

The Prix Vermeille and Prix de l’Opera heroine also had the option of running in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, but instead takes on the boys in the longer of the two races.

She will be ridden by Colin Keane, because intended partner Christophe Soumillon was ruled out on Friday after testing positive for Covid-19.

Weld said: “She’s equally as effective over 10 furlongs and a mile and a half.

“I think she’s very tough, sound and genuine, so is well suited to the Breeders’ Cup. Most importantly, she’s a stayer with speed.

“I think in this difficult year, great credit must be given to the Breeders’ Cup for their organisation and help and their ability to put on the fixture. They really need great credit for what they’re achieving.”

Lord North wins at Royal Ascot
Lord North wins at Royal Ascot (Megan Ridgwell/PA)

Enable’s trainer John Gosden is this year represented by Lord North and Mehdaayih.

Lord North won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot earlier in the summer, but finished tailed off on his return to the Berkshire circuit for last month’s Champion Stakes.

Mehdaayih, meanwhile, has raced just twice in 2020 thus far, most recently finishing fourth in Ascot’s Qipco British Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes.

“The Champion Stakes was unfortunately run on a quagmire, which wasn’t a lot of help to Lord North nor Magical,” said Gosden.

“We’d had record rain in October, so both with the Arc in Paris and on Champions Day at Ascot, you were running in the deepest ground I’ve ever seen. It was drying out ground, which becomes very sticky and gluey.

“Prior to that Lord North ran a lovely race to finish third in the Juddmonte International at York, having previously won the Prince of Wales, and we’re looking forward to running him here.

“Mehdaayih ripped her back when she ran in the Prince of Wales’s (finished sixth), so she had a long time off and we only just managed to get her back for Champions Day.”

Soumillon ruled out of Breeders’ Cup following positive Covid-19 tests

Christophe Soumillon will be unable to ride Tarnawa in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf after twice testing positive for Covid-19 – and will be replaced by Colin Keane.

Trainer Dermot Weld confirmed both Soumillon’s positive tests and that dual Irish champion Keane will therefore take the ride on the Aga Khan’s four-year-old filly in Saturday’s Grade One race at Keeneland.

“Unfortunately, he is positive for Covid-19,” said Weld.

“He was tested twice and came up positive both times. So Colin Keane will deputise.”

Soumillon had ridden Tarnawa to back-to-back Group One victories in both the Prix de l’Opera and Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp over the past two months.

Keane, who has not previously ridden her, is at the Breeders’ Cup to partner Siskin in the Mile – having this week claimed his second Irish title to add to his 2017 success.

Tarnawa is currently second-favourite, behind Aidan O’Brien’s multiple Group One-winning mare Magical, for the 12-furlong Turf.

Weld ranks Tarnawa as his best shot at Breeders’ Cup success

Dermot Weld believes Tarnawa represents his best ever chance of claiming Breeders’ Cup success at Keeneland next week.

The master of Rosewell House has enjoyed huge success on the international stage, with a pair of Melbourne Cup victories and multiple top-level wins in America featuring on his illustrious CV – but a Breeders’ Cup winner has so far eluded him.

Tarnawa will cross the Atlantic with excellent claims of breaking his duck following back-to-back Group One wins in France – following up a hugely-impressive display in last month’s Prix Vermeille with a more gritty performance in the Prix de l’Opera on her return to Paris.

Weld said: “I’ve been delighted with Tarnawa. We purposefully planned an autumn campaign with her. She won the Prix Vermeille very nicely and went back and won the Prix de l’Opera and has progressed from those two Group One wins.

“We’ve kept her on the same training schedule. She’s a very straightforward filly to train. She did a nice bit of sharp work last week and I was very happy with the way she went.”

Tarnawa is entered for both the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf in Kentucky – and Weld confirmed she is set to take on the boys in the longer of the two races, with Christophe Soumillon keeping the ride.

He added: “It’s pretty certain that she’ll go to the Turf. It’s a pretty tight track with a short straight and there will likely be a bigger field in the Filly & Mare race, so the chance of getting a bad draw increases.

“Christophe Soumillon will definitely ride her. I thought he gave her two perfect rides when she won her two Group Ones and you don’t break a winning combination.”

Asked whether he felt Tarnawa was his best chance heading to a Breeders’ Cup, Weld said: “Unquestionably.

“It would be lovely to win a Breeders’ Cup race. I’ve had very few horses with the serious chance that I believe she has of winning.”

Just a length behind Tarnawa when third in the Prix de l’Opera was Audarya, who will become multiple Group One-winning trainer James Fanshawe’s first ever Breeders’ Cup runner when she lines up for the Filly & Mare Turf.

“It’s very exciting, because for a stable of our size, when you’re never going to be champion trainer or anything like that, it’s about finding a good horse and doing a good job with what you’ve got,” said the Newmarket handler.

James Fanshawe has high hopes for Audarya
James Fanshawe has high hopes for Audarya (Tim Goode/PA)

“Training winners is great and every winner you’re really grateful for, but to have the chance to go for a race like this is what the game’s all about.

“It’s tough competition at the Breeders’ Cup and I hate going with only half a chance. I feel this filly is really well, we’ve talked about it for a while and that’s where we’ll go.”

Audarya was winning a handicap on the all-weather at Newcastle as recently as early August, but has made huge progress since by claiming a surprise Group One win in the Prix Jean Romanet before proving that effort was no fluke behind Tarnawa on Arc weekend.

Fanshawe added: “We’ve always really liked the filly. We’d won the Romanet before with Ribbons (2014) and Speedy Boarding (2016), so I always had that race at the back of my mind. She was in good form, so we said we’d have a cut at the Romanet and she won it well.

“Having won the Romanet, we went for the Opera and she ran very well there. She was beaten barely a length and her rating has gone up from 101 to 116 this year.

“I always find if I go for a big race as an afterthought it doesn’t come off, but the Breeders’ Cup is nicely spaced after the Opera and she seems in good form.”

Flying Visit makes it an afternoon to remember for Jim Bolger

Flying Visit’s hard-fought Eyrefield Stakes success completed a quick across-the-card double in big races on either side of the Irish Sea for Jim Bolger.

Under an hour after Bolger’s Mac Swiney had relished the attritional conditions Doncaster to win the Group One Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes, Flying Visit took his cue at Leopardstown.

For good measure, the veteran trainer – who was winning the Eyrefield for the fifth time in seven years – also bred a Group One hero in France on the same afternoon when Mark Johnston’s Gear Up caused a minor shock in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

It fell to Flying Visit to secure Bolger’s unusual juvenile hat-trick across Europe, and the son of Pride Of Dubai had to be tough to do so.

He and Luke McAteer arrived from off the pace to lead in the final furlong but then faced a determined challenge from Wuqood, and dug in very well to prevail by a head at 100-30 – with 6-4 favourite Carlisle Bay a further three-quarters of a length back in third.

Flying Visit had previously won just one of his nine career starts, and finished second in his last three races – including at Gowran only three days ago.

After he had struck at the first attempt in Group class, McAteer explained that the colt’s regular jockey Kevin Manning had given him some handy riding instructions.

“He was a bit more straightforward today,” said McAteer.

“Kevin told me, if I could, to win without the stick – because he felt he was resenting it a bit.

“He stuck at it well, in fairness.”

He added: “I’m just delighted – it’s a great day for the whole team with the Group One winner in England as well.”

“I’m very grateful for the chances I’ve had. That’s 25 winners for the season, and it’s been a great year.”

Dermot Weld’s Amma Grace was a 7-2 winner of the Listed Trigo Stakes under Oisin Orr, by a neck from Numerian.

Weld, who was enjoying his sixth success in the race since 2010, said: “She did it well and she got a good tactical ride from Oisin.

“I walked the last two furlongs of the track when I came racing – and while the stands side is obviously a shade quicker I didn’t think there was that much advantage in coming all the way across, especially when you are going to ride her very positively.

“The shortest way home is still up the inside, and that’s what he did. He gave her a good ride, and the filly deserved it.

“She ran an excellent second in the Group Two Blandford (second at the Curragh last time). I just wanted to win a stakes race with her this year.

“She’s a stakes-winning filly now, and a beautifully-bred filly for Moyglare (Stud).

“I’ll speak with Eva Maria Haefner, but I’d say the plan will be to keep her in training next year.”

Breeders’ Cup bid next on the agenda for Tarnawa

Dermot Weld has confirmed Tarnawa will head to the Breeders’ Cup meeting at Keeneland following her victory in the Prix de l’Opera at ParisLongchamp.

The four-year-old will have the choice of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf or the Turf, where she would take on colts and geldings.

Weld admitted leaning more towards the Turf should the ground be firm as it is over her optimum distance of a mile and a half compared to the mile and a quarter of the Filly & Mare race.

“The present plan is Champions Day will come too soon because she has had a busy couple of months,” Weld told Sky Sports Racing.

“She was a good winner at Group level here in Ireland in August and I just feel the extra time to the Breeders’ Cup would be beneficial.

“No decision will be made yet whether it will be the Filly & Mare or the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

“I would like to see nearer to the day. It will be early November and I’ve been in Kentucky when they’ve had snow at that time of year, so don’t take it for definite the ground would be firm.

“Those factors will come into my mind.

“If it was fast ground, we might look more at the mile and a half (Turf).

“You must remember she’s won three Group races over a mile and a half. She is very effective over that distance.”

Weld reported Tarnawa to have taken the Opera in her stride.

“She came back immediately after the race yesterday evening,” said the County Kildare trainer.

“She’s in great shape and was out in the field this morning and was as happy as could be.

“She’s a very good filly to win those two Group One races (Prix Vermeille and Opera), so competitive, back to back – (it) was a big achievement.

“We weren’t sure she’d handle the ground with the speed she has, whether she would as effective on that surface, was my concern.”

While Tarnawa may not be heading to British Champions Day at Ascot, Weld has yet to decide whether his dual Irish St Leger heroine Search For A Song goes for the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.

“The decision will be made whether she goes to Ascot on Champions Day for the Long Distance Cup,” he said.

“We’ll look forward to training her next year and win another Irish St Leger with her.

“She’s not the easiest lady in the world. Things just didn’t go her way earlier in the year. She has had her moments. It was a matter of regaining her confidence and that’s what we achieved.”

Opera performance sees Tarnawa time it to perfection

Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa came with a late flourish to catch Alpine Star close home in the Prix de l’Opera at ParisLongchamp.

Tarnawa had shown she was a top-class filly when winning the Prix Vermeille three weeks ago in good style, and was among the favourites to follow up.

Her main rival was Jessica Harrington’s Alpine Star, who had gone close in the French Oaks and Prix Jacques le Marois after winning the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Given a bold ride by Shane Foley, Alpine Star attempted to see them all off by kicking early in the straight and soon plenty were in trouble.

James Fanshawe’s Audarya, who sprang something of a surprise in the Prix Jean Romanet, began to make ground on the far rail while Tarnawa came down the middle of the track.

Alpine Star was still in front with 100 yards to run, but Christophe Soumillon rides Longchamp as well as anyone and had timed his challenge to perfection.

There was a sense of inevitability as Tarnawa was catching with every stride and she got there just in time, meaning Alpine Star was second in her third Group One in a row.

Weld’s son Mark told Sky Sports Racing: “That was a very special performance, it’s very hard to win here in France.

“She won the Vermeille and to come back just three weeks later, she’s a really tough, courageous mare.

“This is always one of the best races – sometimes the best race of Arc weekend, we knew it was going to be tough and we knew the Niarchos filly (Alpine Star) had plenty of Group One form, she was always going to be the one to beat.

“We got there, it was a fantastic performance.”

He added: “We’ll have to discuss her future with His Highness (Aga Khan). She gets a free entry into the Breeders’ Cup, I believe, which is definitely a possibility.

“Whether she comes back next year will be up to His Highness and all the team. It’s fantastic, but she’s won two Group Ones now so we’ll enjoy today.”