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.
“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.”