Dermot Weld and the Aga Khan have made the decision to keep their superstar filly in training. Great news for all racing fans without doubt. In difficult times, racing needs its superstars and full credit should be given to connections for avoiding the temptation of drawing stumps with her and heading off to the breeding sheds.
Tarnawa was the highlight of the 2020 Flat season for me. 4 wins from 4 starts, which culminated in a fantastic win at Keeneland in the Breeders Cup turf, where she beat Magical and Channel Maker, in spite of letting them get first run into the home straight. That performance was outstanding and shows that she has taken her form to a new level.
Dermot Weld could not have planned her season any better this year, holding her comeback until August, always with the Autumn in mind. She has produced 2 exceptional performances to win at Paris Longchamp in the Prix Vermeille and the Prix de l’Opera, being held off the pace both times and coming fast and late down the centre of the track. The sectional times that she produced in both of those races are enough to suggest that she could cope with a slow and steady pace, as well as a strong gallop. This versatility will always suit at Paris Longchamp, where the downhill run to the home straight often leads to falsely run races in the early stages, which would normally favour those ridden more prominently than Tarnawa.
Next years Arc is still 11 months away and given that we are unlikely to see Tarnawa in action before the second half of next season, there is no great rush to back her yet. If anything, her 2 main market rivals at this early stage may well be seen before she is. Love, trained by Aiden O’Brien, clearly has to be respected, with impressive wins in the 1,000 Guineas and the Oaks and she is another who will most likely be trained with the Arc in mind, though she does have to prove she will handle the softer going (unraced on worse than Good to Soft). Contrail, the Japanese triple crown winner is also prominent in the betting, but there has to be a doubt over whether he will run. My knowledge of Japanese form is virtually none, so I’m not in a position to offer any kind of form comparison between Contrail and the top European horses, but I do know that there is a world of difference between firm going at Kyoto in Japan and the likely heavy going at Paris Longchamp next October.
The Arc de Triomphe is the reason Tarnawa has been kept in training. This year’s renewal was messy race run at a slow gallop, dictated by Persian King who had very suspect stamina at the trip. Had Tarnawa been entered, she may well have won. Sottsass and Persian King have now been retired to stud, Enable has followed them, whilst Stradivarius surely won’t drop in trip again even if he does race on at 7. As such, many of the obstacles in her path to glory have already been removed. In Swoop and Raabihah would be of interest as they can both consider themselves a little unlucky with the way this years Arc worked out. However, while a stronger run race would suit them both, it would also suit Tarnawa, who should be able to sit in rear and come with her now customary late run.
In normal years, it would make sense to look at this year’s classic generation, but with the exception of Love, it is hard to see any of this seasons 3-year-olds being able to reach the level that Tarnawa already has.
Fingers crossed that she winters well and makes it to the race in one piece, if that happens, she will be very hard to beat.