Tag Archive for: Prix Vermeille

‘Everything on the table’ as Varian assesses options for Arc possible Teona

Roger Varian is keen to keep all options open with Teona after the Prix Vermeille heroine returned to Newmarket on Monday evening.

The daughter of Sea The Stars was considered a serious Classic contender earlier in the year, amid reports of sparkling workouts on the Newmarket gallops.

But while there was plenty of promise in her third-placed finish behind Snowfall in the Musidora Stakes at York in May, she was a long way behind the same filly in the Oaks at Epsom the following month.

However, Varian has never lost faith in Teona – and after returning from a break with a Listed success at Windsor, she came of age in Paris on Sunday when turning the tables on Snowfall to claim Group One glory.

“She got back last night and seems fine after the race, so we’re very happy with that,” said the Bury Road handler.

“We’ve made no secret of the high regard we hold her in. Hopefully she’s a filly really going places now.”

While many were shocked Teona reversed previous form with Snowfall, Varian feels there were genuine reasons why she could not land a telling blow behind Aidan O’Brien’s filly earlier in the year.

He added: “She had a valid excuse at York, and a valid excuse at Epsom.

Roger Varian has been unwavering in his faith in Teona
Roger Varian has been unwavering in his faith in Teona (Mike Egerton/PA)

“At York she reared up in the starting gates, and then it turned into a four-furlong sprint up the home straight. She actually ran very well that day – making up ground on horses that were sprinting in front of her. You could see how she might get closer to Snowfall.

“At Epsom the ground was heavy, and I don’t think she’s a filly who can cope with that sort of ground.

“It took a while to get her back after running on that ground at Epsom, but she was fairly dominant at Windsor and showed what she was capable of on Sunday in Paris.”

What made the success all the sweeter for Varian is the fact he also trained Teona’s dam Ambivalent to win a Group One.

He said: “James Fanshawe texted me after the race to say congratulations and how nice it is to keep a Group One-winning line going. He also said it’s a sign that I’m getting on a bit! Maybe he’s right.”

Snowfall was beaten by Teona in France
Snowfall was beaten by Teona in France (Nigel French/PA)

The obvious target for Teona is a return to France for a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on the first Sunday in October – although she also holds alternative Group One entries over varying distances that same ParisLongchamp weekend as well as in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot later in the month.

Varian confirmed Europe’s premier middle-distance contest will be “seriously considered”, but he is in no rush to commit at this stage.

He added: “I haven’t had a conversation with the owner yet, but you’d have to consider the Arc if we’re happy with the filly over the next two and a half weeks and the ground looks like it will be fairly sound.

“I don’t think we’d entertain a very soft-ground Arc – I don’t think that would be her bag. But if the forecast and the ground is in our favour, and we’re happy with the filly’s condition, I’m sure it will be seriously considered.

“I think at the moment we keep everything on the table and don’t make any decisions, because we don’t have to. She’s got these big-race entries, so we don’t have to supplement her or anything like that, which means we can make these decisions late.

“The nice thing for us now is that she’s won the Vermeille and established herself as a top-drawer filly.

“I don’t quite know how the rest of the season will pan out for her. Some of it will be decided by things out of our control, like weather and ground, and some of it will be within our control.

“She’s won her Group One, so we don’t have to keep telling everyone she’s good – she’s proved it.

“Everything remains a possibility with a filly like that.”

Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, Varian is keeping his fingers crossed Teona will return in 2022, saying: “I haven’t discussed that with the owner, but I certainly hope so.

“She’s only just getting started. Her mother raced as a five-year-old, and there is no reason to think Teona won’t get better with age.”

Teona shocks Snowfall in Prix Vermeille

Teona shocked Snowfall as she pulled off an unexpected victory in the Group One Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp.

Roger Varian’s Teona had finished 28 lengths behind runaway Oaks heroine Snowfall when only 10th to her at Epsom back in June.

But she turned the Classic form round emphatically to gain her revenge – as 2-9 favourite Snowfall – who had also been sensational in winning the Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks – could finish only a length-and-a-half runner-up, and Teona (11-1) scored at the top level for the first time.

Snowfall, ridden again here by Frankie Dettori as she was at Epsom, was held up off the pace as her Ballydoyle stablemate La Joconde made much of the running – with Teona positioned in second by Olivier Peslier.

Dettori began to bridge the gap into the straight – but by then Teona – who had been her own worst enemy this season in terms of settling – had already made her telling challenge, and always appeared in control thereafter.

Snowfall had gone into her Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe trial as ante-post favourite for the autumn highlight over course and distance next month – but after this defeat, she was eased to 6-1 from 5-2 by Coral, who rate Teona a 16-1 chance and make Derby hero Adayar their 4-1 favourite. Paddy Power and Betfair went 4-1 about Snowfall from 9-4.

The surprise outcome vindicated the belief Varian has long expressed in Teona.

The Newmarket trainer told Sky Sports Racing: “I’m delighted, speechless really.

“Everything went smooth – I thought Olivier did a great job on the filly, and she settled well.

“She showed what she can do … what she’s capable of. We’ve always had massive faith in this filly, and we were disappointed how the first half of the season went for us.

“But we gave her time, and I’d like to thank the owner for being very patient.”

Teona had also finished third to Snowfall when they were both having their first starts of the season in the Musidora Stakes at York in May – but she returned to winning form, after her Oaks setback, to easily land a Listed race at Windsor next month.

Varian added: “She’s a big-framed filly, and maybe she’s just needed time. I trained her mother (Ambivalent), who was very good – (and) she didn’t win her Group One until she was an older filly.

“I think the family mature into themselves as they get older, so no doubt time has helped her.”

As well as the Arc, Teona holds entries over varying trips next month in the Prix de l’Opera and Prix de Royallieu.

Varian hinted, however, that the Arc is most likely – as long as the ground stays in Teona’s favour in Paris.

Snowfall's unbeaten campaign came to an end at ParisLongchamp
Snowfall’s unbeaten campaign came to an end at ParisLongchamp (Nigel French/PA)

“Most importantly, (we must) make sure the filly is sound and healthy tomorrow morning – and see how she trains over the next couple of weeks,” he said.

“I’d like to hope those are options we can consider. I do think she’s a filly who appreciates a sound surface, so she’d want this sunshine to continue for another few weeks.

“I think a mile and a half is her trip. I’ll speak with her owner and the team at home, but she’s got all those options because we believed in her – and I’m so pleased she’s come good today.”

Peslier, a four-time Arc winner himself, gave Teona a vote of confidence too.

Asked if she could follow up in the Arc, he said: “Why not?

“I’ve had many winners (in the race). But each one is different – so if we have a chance to win another one, of course.

“If you don’t run, you never win.”

Snowfall has been deposed as Arc favourite
Snowfall has been deposed as Arc favourite (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dettori, meanwhile, felt the pace of the race had not suited Snowfall.

He said: “I found myself too far from the front end of the race, and Hollie Doyle, on La Joconde, didn’t go fast enough for my filly.

“The race turned into a sprint.”

Tarnawa takes Vermeille honours for Weld and Soumillon

Tarnawa struck Group One gold for Dermot Weld in the Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp.

The Aga Khan-owned filly won at Group Three and Group Two level in 2019, and made a successful return to action when winning the Give Thanks Stakes at Cork for the second season running last month.

With Give Thanks runner-up Cayenne Pepper impressing in the Blandford Stakes at the Curragh earlier in the afternoon, Tarnawa was a 5-1 shot for her French assignment, with Jean-Claude Rouget’s Raabihah all the rage as the 5-6 favourite.

Ridden by Christophe Soumillon, Weld’s charge travelled with zest for much of the mile-and-a-half contest before throwing down her challenge in the home straight.

Tarnawa displayed a bright turn of foot inside the final two furlongs and was ultimately well on top at the line.

Raabihah made late gains to fill the runner-up spot, just ahead of Ed Vaughan’s Dame Malliot, who ran a fine race from the front under Frankie Dettori.

Weld was represented on course by his son Mark, who told Sky Sports Racing: “It’s absolutely fantastic – she’s a wonderful filly. Thank you so much to His Highness the Aga Khan, his family and all his team.

“This is a very prestigious race. She’s a very good filly and deserved the step up to a Group One.

“She was very impressive last time at Cork, so we were hopeful.”

Whether Tarnawa returns to Paris next month for either the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe or the Prix de l’Opera is up for discussion.

Weld added: “I’ve spoken to my father and we have to talk to the Aga Khan’s team. Today was the day for now, but she was so impressive, so it (Arc) is a possibility.”

Dermot Weld said from the Curragh “It was always the plan to have an autumn campaign with her.

“When she came back to me from Giltown Stud she was in great condition and she won the Group Three from Cayenne Pepper (who won the Blandford) which was a real performance and it was a beautiful performance today.

“I purposefully targeted the second half of the year. I’ll speak to His Highness the Aga Khan and Pat Downes (racing manager) and we’ll come up with a plan for her.”

Despite the reverse, Rouget was not ruling anything out for Raabihah.

He said: “She ran well, but now she is against tougher rivals. She is changing category, she has proved that she is the best three-year-old filly in France.

“We will see how she is over the next two weeks, but if she is well in herself she will run in the Arc.”