Tarnawa, a triple Group 1 winner last autumn and being aimed at the ‘Arc’, made a pleasing return to action when registering a smooth success, under Colin Keane, in the Group 3 Grant Thornton Ballyroan Stakes in Leopardstown.
Confidently handled, the Aga Khan’s five-year-old mare came from off the pace to lead before the furlong-pole and quickly forged clear to beat Silence Please by six and a half lengths, with a yawning 13 lengths gap back to the third Hector De Maris.
“It was her first run back after a long absence and she was carrying an extra few kilos,” explained delighted trainer Dermot Weld, “I was extra careful with her during the dry spell and was concerned she might be a bit short today. But she has been training extremely well and has probably strengthened since last year. I thought she was very impressive.”
“The plan was to go for the ‘Give Thanks’ again, but, with the weather forecast, I felt it was more prudent to come here instead. She just cruised out there and is a wonderful mare — she won the Breeders Cup Turf on firm ground and it was heavy in Longchamp.”
He added: “The ‘Arc’ is the plan and the reason she was kept in training. The Irish Champion Stakes, or Prix Vermeille would fit nicely into her programme. But the Irish Champion is favourite to be her next race, on the way back to Longchamp.”
The Jim Bolger-trained McTigue built on his promising fourth to I Am Magic in Galway ten days ago when swooping late under Kevin Manning’s driving to deny Chicago Soldier by a head in the one-mile, two-year-old maiden, emulating his sire, Fracas, who won his maiden at Leopardstown for this colt’s sire Fracas.
Una Manning commented, “Kevin said that it took a while for the penny to drop, but that he finished well. He gets the mile well and will improve as a three-year-old.”
Dawn Tapper completed a double for Coolcullen, and for rider Rory Cleary, successful in the claimer on Cormac Farrell’s Woodrow, when taking the second division of the 45-70 handicap.
Collins Street, winner of a barrier-trial at Dundalk, captured the nine-furlong maiden, on debut, for Joseph O’Brien and Shane Crosse, coming through strongly to master Breaker Of Chains and giving the impression that there should be plenty more to come from the son of Camelot.
On the mark with Miss Myers in the Connacht Oaks in Sligo on Wednesday, Michael Grassick struck again when Wayne Lordan brought Cactus Tree (12/1) from last to first to take the Plusvital Handicap at the expense of favourite All Things Bright, prompting the trainer to comment, “Wayne said they went hard up front and that he was always happy on her. If she’s okay, you might see her again in Cork on Saturday.”
In Sligo, Willie Mullins completed a treble with favourites Attitash (13/8), Arctic Warrior (1/4) and Nos Na Gaoithe (30/100). Champion-jockey Paul Townend made the trip west for two rides and, having hit the deck at the final flight on Donthavetime in the opener, won convincingly by Gavin Cromwell’s Faith Du Val (Darragh O’Keeffe), he steered the Mullins-trained 13/8 Attitash to a smooth, seven lengths win in the ’In Celebration Of The Racing Achievements Of Billy Boyers’ Handicap Hurdle.
Arctic Warrior (Mark Walsh) provided the middle leg of the Closutton treble, coasting home 11 lengths clear of Moakland in the Lough Arrow Maiden Hurdle.
Walsh said, “It was only a matter of getting around. He was fairly keen and will have to settle better. But he jumped well and I just wanted him to learn from today.”
The treble was completed when debutante Nos Na Gaoithe, a half-sister to Rathvinden, owned by Syndicates Racing, landed the bumper, despite showing her inexperience before and in the race.
And Patrick Mullins suggested that the four-year-old might now be aimed at the listed mares bumper at Gowran Park on October 1.
In-form John Ryan won the Foley’s Bar & Off Licence Rated Novice Hurdle with even-money favourite The Little Yank, ridden by 7lb. claimer Shane Fitzgerald, who went on to complete a double on Pat Martin’s Tecumseh Sherman in the Lough Gill Handicap Hurdle.
Ryan said: “Bryan (Cooper) said he got no run in Galway and did well to finish third. He came home as if he didn’t have a race and this looked a good race for him. We’ll go for a big handicap with him now, probably the €80,000 handicap in Listowel.”