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Search For A Song hits the mark in Loughbrown Stakes

Dermot Weld’s dual Classic heroine Search For A Song returned to her best form with an impressive success in the Group Three Raa Atoll Loughbrown Stakes at the Curragh.

Search For A Song won the Irish St. Leger in 2019 and 2020 but, after a mid-summer break, could finish only sixth behind Sonnyboyliston in pursuit of a famous hat-trick at this same course on Irish Champions Weekend a fortnight ago.

Back up to two miles, for only the second time in her career, last year’s Long Distance Cup runner-up appeared to both relish the extra stamina test and demonstrate her liking once more for the Curragh as she surged to a near 10-length victory from even-money favourite The Mediterranean.

Search For A Song made her own odds of 15-8 look generous, having closed from off the pace to be the last of five in contention approaching the straight, then taken over two furlongs out and moved further and further clear under champion jockey Colin Keane.

Weld said: “That was an impressive performance by her, and she got the trip very well.

“There are a couple of possibilities, and we will see how she comes out of the race before we decide exactly where she runs next.”

Weld confirmed a return to Ascot next month, for a race in which she was runner-up to Trueshan last year, may well be in the offing.

“She’ll obviously run again this year, but we’ll speak with her owner Eva Maria Haefner (of Moyglare Stud) and then decide where we go with her. The Long Distance Cup, in which she was second last year, is one of the possibilities.

“She settled beautifully today. It was a very strong pace all the way, and you could call her a winner a long way out. I always thought she would get that trip, but it was nice to see her do it so well.”

Debutante Dun Na Sead was an eyecatching, all-the-way winner of the opening William Hill Ireland Acca Freedom Irish EBF Maiden.

Kieran Cotter’s Starspangledbanner filly was in front immediately on the stands side, and never in any danger as she raced clear of the field throughout on the way to a length-and-three-quarter victory at 15-2.

Declan McDonogh never needed to get animated in the saddle as Dun Na Sead easily accounted for Neo Soul, confirming the promise she had previously shown in a barrier trial.

Dun Na Sead sports the yellow colours of Kildare Racing Club, to the fore of late on this year’s Ebor and Irish St. Leger hero Sonnyboyliston.

Cotter was understandably enthused after watching the owners’ latest winner.

“She is definitely the fastest two-year-old we have ever had,” said the County Laois trainer.

“She always seemed a bit special, and is very quick.

“Everyone has been very patient with her, because she had a touch of sore shins and went out to grass.

“She did very well in a barrier trial and is a half-sister to a good, tough horse of ours Lord Dudley (in the same ownership).”

Dun Na Sead may well be moving up in class soon – possibly even at Del Mar next month.

Cotter added: “From flagfall, she is gone – a lot of these horses can’t maintain it to the line, but she can.

“We joked a few weeks ago with Liam Clarke, who runs the Kildare Racing Club, that we had half an eye on the Breeders Cup!

“We think she’s black type – but we’re under no pressure now, and we’ll sit back and see where we go.”

New Energy was a second successive all-the-way winner, in the William Hill Ireland Play Responsibly Irish EBF Maiden – and he too earned rave reviews from his trainer, after beating Sir Antonio by two and a half lengths.

Jockey Robbie Colgan always appeared confident on the 11-1 shot, and winning trainer Sheila Lavery said: “I have to thank Gary Halpin, who gave this horse a big recommendation.

“I left him in today but I was praying for rain just to ease the ground a bit.

“I thought so much of him that he had an entry in the Beresford but I didn’t want his first run to be at that level and have a hard race.

“He has a Guineas entry, and I think he’s something very special. He has a very natural high cruising speed.”

New Energy is likely to run again this season, possibly up to Group Three class at Leopardstown next month.

“He ran twice in barrier trails,” added Lavery.

“He was very green the first time, when I didn’t put a cross noseband on him, and he won the second time.

“I would love to run him in a winners-of-one, but those sort of races are really missing from the programme. He could go for something like the Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown.”

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.”

Search For A Song waits for reappearance date

Search For A Song’s seasonal reappearance has been delayed due to the dry weather, after connections decided not to declare her for the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan on Sunday.

The dual Irish St Leger winner was taken out of the Group Three contest by trainer Dermot Weld, who will wait a little longer before returning the Moyglare Stud-owned five-year-old to action.

“We hoped to run Search For A Song in the Vintage Crop on Sunday and while she has never been better in her life, with the dry weather and ground we couldn’t take the chance running her,” said Kris Weld, assistant to his father.

“We’ll wait for another few weeks and see.”

Weld junior reports Tarnawa to be in good form, but there is no set date for her 2021 debut yet.

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp in October remains the long-term objective for the Aga Khan-owned five-year-old. She ended the last campaign with a hat-trick of Group One victories in the Prix Vermeille, Prix de l’Opera and Breeders’ Cup Turf.

“Tarnawa is very well. There isn’t really a plan with her yet, and boring and all as it sounds, we’ll be guided by her,” said Weld.

“She is still on her break, but will be back shortly.

“The reason she is being kept in training is to have a go at the Arc and we’ll see if she’s up to it or not – please God she is.”

Weld was speaking at Cork, after Kailash (1-2 favourite) got off the mark at the sixth attempt in division two of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden.

Wearing blinkers for the first time, the Mastercraftsman colt led over two furlongs out under Colin Keane and went on to score by a length and three-quarters from Star Official.

“He is a grand horse, always runs an honest race and might get a little further in time and more ease in the ground would be a help,” Weld added.

“He has toughed it out well, is a grand genuine sort and the blinkers just sharpened him up. He deserved that today and I’d like to see a drop of rain before he runs again.”

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.”

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.”

Song camp consider autumn targets

Connections of dual Irish St Leger heroine Search For A Song will consider possible travel complications and ground conditions as they plot her next move.

It has been a largely frustrating campaign for Dermot Weld’s filly, who disappointed on her first start of the season in the Mooresbridge Stakes and was pulled up swiftly after stumbling badly in the Munster Oaks at Cork.

However, a third-placed finish behind the brilliant Magical in the Tattersalls Gold Cup was a step in the right direction before she successfully defended her crown in the one-mile-six-furlong Classic at the Curragh this month.

Fiona Craig, bloodstock and breeding adviser to owners Moyglare Stud Farm, said: “It’s been a complicated year.

“She only got about 100 yards in the Munster Oaks and then ran great behind Magical in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. We considered going to France afterwards, and there was a discussion about her going to York, but you were going to hit Love in the Yorkshire Oaks.

“Shipping has become harder and harder as the year has gone on, and we just decided to keep her at home, so to win the Irish Leger again was a great day – and I thought Oisin (Orr) gave her a great ride.”

Search For A Song holds an entry in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on October 17, while she also has a more immediate option in France.

Craig added: “She’s in very good order, so she probably will run again this year – and it will all depend on where she can go and how easily.

“There’s the Prix de Royallieu (at ParisLongchamp) next week, but she’s not straightforward and probably a filly who would want her own staff with her, so I’m not sure if that’s possible or not. She has grown up a lot this year, but she can still be a bit quirky – that’s just her.

“There’s Champions Day, but the ground can come up very heavy at Ascot at that time of year. She won on yielding ground at the Curragh and has this massive stride, but we always felt that she wouldn’t go in the mud, so that would be the worry.

“Wherever she goes, I think she’ll stay in training next year. The Leger might be a long-term aim again, but I’d like to think we could have a bit of fun with her in races like the Yorkshire Oaks, maybe something at Royal Ascot and maybe the King George.

“It would be great for her to run over a mile and a half a bit more. She was third behind Magical over a mile and a quarter – and while I’m not saying she’s a mile-and-a-quarter filly, God bless Pat Smullen, he always said she had enough pace for a mile and a half.”

Search For A Song powers to Irish Leger repeat

Search For A Song landed back-to-back renewals of the Comer Group International Irish St Leger at the Curragh, as former champion apprentice Oisin Orr won the biggest race of his career.

It was a different story to 12 months ago, as while Search For A Song was in front a mile out on that occasion under Chris Hayes, this time Orr had her switched off and was the last to challenge deep inside the final furlong.

Andrea Atzeni must have felt confident as he hit the front on Roger Varian’s Ebor winner Fujaira Prince, with everything else seemingly in trouble.

Orr had yet to fully ask for everything on the filly, though, who had not won since her famous success last year, although she had run an eyecatching race when not beaten far by Magical in the Tattersalls Gold Cup in July.

Search For A Song powered home under Oisin Orr
Search For A Song powered home under Oisin Orr (PA)

When her stamina began to kick in close home, it seemed inevitable that the 7-1 chance would get up and in the end she was a comfortable winner.

It capped a memorable day for Dermot Weld, who also took the Prix Vermeille with Tarnawa in Paris.

Weld, who trained the last back-to-back Leger winner in Vinnie Roe, said: “It’s been a special day, especially when you win your ninth St Leger.

“I had one horse win four back-to-back (Vinnie Roe), Vintage Crop won it twice and now she has, too.

“I’d trained her for the day for a long time, I also wanted to get that Group One over a mile and a quarter (black type) into her so people didn’t think she was just a staying mare.

“You saw what the filly that beat her, Magical, did (in the Irish Champion Stakes) so I was quietly confident she’d win today.”

He went on: “I thought it was a lovely ride from Oisin Orr, he’s only 23 the other day but he switched her off beautifully and I was confident turning for home that we’d win.

“He gets horses to relax very well. I need to be very fair to Chris Hayes as he rode her beautifully last year too, they all have their own talents. I don’t really have a number one but Oisin rides most of them, I do accept that. I think he has wonderful hands and he fills horses with confidence.

“When you win the Vermeille and the Leger on the same day with two fillies when you train 100 horses, which is a great number in Ireland these days – yes you still get a big kick.”