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Breeders’ Cup Turf defence is ‘distinct possibility’ for Tarnawa

Tarnawa may defend her Breeders’ Cup Turf crown after she went so close to adding the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to her brilliant record.

Connections will give the Dermot Weld-trained mare time to recover from her exertions as a three-quarter-length runner-up at ParisLongchamp on Sunday before any decisions are made.

Tarnawa put in a strong challenge in the final furlong but could not quite hold German raider Torquator Tasso, who passed her close home to spring a huge shock and claim the coveted spoils.

“Tarnawa is tired, but you’d have to be so proud of the effort she has put in,” said Kris Weld, assistant to his father.

“She was in the form of her life, we knew that, and she represented us so well.

“Torquator Tasso’s form was very good and was there for all to see. He wasn’t running just because it was the Arc, and it was a very good renewal of the race.

“We’ll see how she comes out of the race, and the Breeders’ Cup is a distinct possibility, having won it last year. We’ll take it one day at a time, and there is no talk about next year yet.”

Tarnawa was queen of Keeneland last November when she beat Magical by a length to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf and complete a hat-trick of Group One successes to go through 2020 unbeaten in four races.

The daughter of Shamardal made a belated reappearance when winning the Group Three Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown in August, followed by a narrow defeat to St Mark’s Basilica in the Irish Champion Stakes over the same course last month.

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.

Basilica bids to seal superstar status with Irish Champion victory

There may be only be four runners in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown – but the race still looks set to live up to expectations, with three multiple Group One winners taking each other on.

They are headed by Aidan O’Brien’s St Mark’s Basilica, an unexpected winner of the Dewhurst last season but arguably the leading three-year-old colt in Europe this term.

He has won the French Guineas and Derby, and then put elder rivals Mishriff and Addeybb to the sword in the Eclipse – form which was franked when John and Thady Gosden’s brilliant four-year-old dotted up in the Juddmonte International at York.

St Mark’s Basilica missed his own intended trip to the Knavesmire with an untimely leg infection, but he is now over that ailment – and all roads have led to Leopardstown since.

“The plan was always to go to the French Guineas, and from there to the French Derby,” said O’Brien.

“After that we felt the Eclipse would be a lovely race for him to meet the older horses in, over a mile and a quarter.

“Everything went as we planned all the way really (before the Juddmonte International).

“He’s very offhanded and very straightforward. He has a great mind, he relaxes, he has a great stride and is very genuine – he has all the things that you would love in a horse.”

Connections of St Mark's Basilica at Sandown
Connections of St Mark’s Basilica at Sandown (Nigel French/PA)

O’Brien is looking for his 10th win in Saturday’s race, which nearly all of his champions have on their CV – with Giant’s Causeway, High Chaparral and dual winners Dylan Thomas and Magical on the roll of honour.

“The Irish Champion Stakes is a great race every year,” he said.

“For older horses having an autumn campaign, it’s the tops really. It has come out as the top-rated race in the world on some occasions.”

According to the betting, St Mark’s Basilica’s chief rival is Dermot Weld’s mare Tarnawa, who arrives on a five-race winning streak which includes two French Group Ones and a victory at the Breeders’ Cup.

The five-year-old made a successful return to action in Leopardstown’s Ballyroan Stakes in early August – and champion jockey Colin Keane, who got the ride only by chance after Christophe Soumillon tested positive for Covid-19 in America, is excited for her latest assignment.

“To get on her was a case of being in the right place at the right time,” he said.

“I was fortunate to keep the ride on her, and we’re very much looking forward to the weekend.

“Christophe (Soumillon) failed a Covid test and couldn’t ride her (at the Breeders’ Cup). I got a phone call from Mr Weld asking would I ride her, and I didn’t have to think about it for too long. The rest is history.

“She was good (in the Ballyroan). I think they left her off for longer by design, very much thinking of a backend campaign with her.

“She came back much stronger physically this year. We thought going to Leopardstown she was about 70 per cent, and there was plenty to work on, so to put up the performance she did I thought was very impressive.”

Although Tarnawa’s best form has been over a mile and a half, she did win the Prix de l’Opera over 10 furlongs last autumn.

Keane added: “We’re dropping back two furlongs at the weekend, but she’s proven herself over that trip as well.

“It’s a very good renewal of the race – you’re taking on two of the best three-year-olds in Ireland, if not Europe.

“It’s not going to be easy, but I don’t think I’d swap her for anything.”

The second three-year-old Keane refers to is Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare, winner of the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes who has also claimed second in the Irish Guineas, Sussex Stakes and Prix Jacques le Marois.

The select field is completed by Joseph O’Brien’s outsider Patrick Sarsfield.

Top trio face Irish Champion Stakes showdown

St Mark’s Basilica, Tarnawa and Poetic Flare have all been declared among a field of four in Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Aidan O’Brien’s three-year-old St Mark’s Basilica arrives on a four-race Group One-winning streak over the course of two seasons.

He won the Dewhurst on his final start at two and this season has added the French Guineas and Derby before beating his elders in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

While a minor setback ruled him out of the Juddmonte International at York, O’Brien nominated this race as his next suitable objective.

Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa is the second multiple Group One scorer in the field.

She won the Prix Vermeille, Prix de l’Opera and Breeders’ Cup Turf last season and while she has only run once this term as she builds up towards the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, she was very impressive in Group Three company.

Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare will race over 10 furlongs for the first time having won the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes this year.

He has also been second in the Irish 2000 Guineas, Sussex Stakes and Prix Jacques le Marois.

The fourth and final runner in the field is Joseph O’Brien’s Patrick Sarsfield, who was second to Juan Elcano in the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot last time out.

Aidan O’Brien runs two Guineas winners in Mother Earth and Empress Josephine in the Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes, along with Friendly.

Pretty Gorgeous (Joseph O’Brien) and Shale (Donnacha O’Brien) will meet again having repeatedly clashed last season, but both have failed to reproduce their top-class juvenile form this term.

Johnny Murtagh runs last year’s winner Champers Elysees but not Create Belief, with Pearls Galore and Epona Plays also among a field of 13.

Irish Guineas winner Mac Swiney is among a field of 14 in the Clipper Logisitics Boomerang Mile, while Ger Lyons’ Atomic Jones and Fozzy Stack’s John The Baptist are defending unbeaten records in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes.

St Mark’s Basilica and Tarnawa remain on course for Leopardstown

St Mark’s Basilica and Tarnawa remain on course for an epic showdown after standing their ground in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The top-class pair feature among a list of 13 left in the Group One over a mile and a quarter following the latest forfeit and supplementary entry stage.

Tarnawa, winner of three Group Ones in the autumn, culminating in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, bids to give trainer Dermot Weld a belated first winner of the race. The five-year-old made a pleasing return to action with an easy win at Leopardstown five weeks ago.

Tarnawa has been brilliant for Dermot Weld
Tarnawa has been brilliant for Dermot Weld (Niall Carson/PA)

St Mark’s Basilica has been a star three-year-old for Aidan O’Brien, with victories in the French 2000 Guineas, French Derby and Coral-Eclipse, although he had to miss the Juddmonte International at York last month.

O’Brien is responsible for seven of the possibles with Armory, Bolshoi Ballet, Innisfree, Love, Joan Of Arc and Snowfall completing his team.

His son Joseph is three-handed with Baron Samedi, Patrick Sarsfield and Thundering Nights.

Snowfall, Joan Of Arc and Thundering Nights are also in the Qatar Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

Poetic Flare is an intriguing contender for the Irish Champion Stakes
Poetic Flare is an intriguing contender for the Irish Champion Stakes (David Davies/PA)

Jim Bolger has the other two confirmations – the Newmarket 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes hero Poetic Flare, who will be trying 10 furlongs for the first time, and Mac Swiney, winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas.

Mac Swiney holds an alternative entry in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile on the same card.

Keane relishing Tarnawa tilt at Irish Champion Stakes glory

Colin Keane is backing Tarnawa to hold her own against the colts as the mare prepares to challenge for the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday week – the feature event on day one of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

The chestnut has been victorious on her last five outings, beginning her 2020 campaign with a Group Three success in the Give Thanks Stakes before collecting back-to-back Group One prizes at ParisLongchamp in both the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Opera.

A trip to Keeneland followed in November for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, with Keane drafted in late on after intended rider Christophe Soumillon was unable to partner the Aga Khan’s star following a positive Covid-19 test.

Soumillon had struck up a good relationship with Tarnawa, something trainer Dermot Weld considered to be a significant factor in their success, but Keane was able to quickly get the measure of the five-year old and steered her to a one-length triumph ahead of Aidan O’Brien’s Magical.

“He (Weld) made it very plain and simple, to not go out there with a plan,” Keane said.

“She’s a filly than can be a little slowly away sometimes and she can be a bit keen, so I just got her to relax a little bit and then from halfway tried to creep my way into it.

“He took a lot of the pressure off me and tried to make it more enjoyable than anything and thankfully it all just worked out on the day.

“We jumped well and I found myself behind Frankie (Dettori, on Lord North) and Ryan (Moore, on Magical), obviously we were inexperienced around a track like that but we were following the right people anyway.

“We didn’t go overly mad and kind of got going from halfway down the back, my filly travelled well and from when we turned in she picked up very well.

“From halfway down the straight I thought I was going to get there, she was a very good winner on the day. It’s hard to describe it.”

Tarnawa has been seen once since that Breeders’ Cup performance, running in the Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown on August 5 – and winning by an emphatic six and a half lengths as 1-2 favourite.

The latter race and the Breeders’ Cup were run over a mile and and a half, with the Irish Champion taking place over 10 furlongs.

“We’re coming back two furlongs which I don’t think will be a problem,” Keane said.

“She’s not a slow filly, she travels strongly and has a good turn of foot at the end of a mile-and-a-half race, but I don’t think the drop back in trip will be an issue.

“She’s not slow, she takes her time to warm into it but she finishes very well as we’ve seen in the past.

“I don’t think it’ll be an issue if it’s lovely good ground.”

Keane considers the daughter of Shamardal to be more physically impressive than ever, having recently ridden her at Weld’s Curragh stable.

“I got to sit on her last Friday morning, we were doing our normal exercise and she seems very well,” he said.

“She’s a lovely big chestnut. She’s got a good character about her, but she’d eat you in the stable.

“She’s a handful, but when she’s going she’s very straightforward and uncomplicated – she’s just a very good filly.

“She’s seems to be a lot stronger physically this year, she had a good break after the Breeders’ Cup and she came back in late.

“She’s done very well over the winter and she’s taken a bit of work to get her to where she is, but she’s definitely stronger physically this year.

St Mark’s Basilica is set to clash with Tarnawa at Leopardstown
St Mark’s Basilica is set to clash with Tarnawa at Leopardstown (Nigel French/PA)

St Mark’s Basilica – brilliant so far this season in picking up the French 2000 Guineas, French Derby and Coral-Eclipse – is the obvious stumbling block to Tarnawa, while crack miler Poetic Flare would merit obvious respect should he step up in trip.

“It’s going to be a very good race,” said Keane.

“St Mark’s Basilica looks very good this year, Poetic Flare has been very good for Mr (Jim) Bolger and Kevin (Manning) so if he turns up it’s going to be a good renewal of the race.

“These are the races we all want to be riding in, you get the most buzz out of them. The best horses, the highest level against the best riders – I’m very much looking forward to it now.”

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.”

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.

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.”

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.”