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Tarnawa thriving physically ahead of Irish Champion Stakes showdown

Jockey Colin Keane is thrilled with the Dermot Weld-trained mare as she builds up to her clash with the Aidan O’Brien’s star three-year-old in the September 11 feature

Tarnawa heads to the Irish Champion Stakes on September 11 2021

Colin Keane has filled Tarnawa’s supporters with confidence ahead of her Irish Champion Stakes showdown with St Mark’s Basilica.

The top jockey says the Dermot Weld-trained mare is thriving physically ahead of Leopardstown’s €1million contest on Saturday week.

Tarnawa, 5-2 with Paddy Power for the Group 1, bagged a hat-trick at the highest level last season, capped by her Breeders’ Cup Turf heroics.

“She seems to be a much stronger physical mare this year,” said Keane, who achieved the fastest century for an Irish Flat jockey in recent days.

“She had a good break after the Breeders’ Cup and came back in late. She has done very well over the winter, probably better than they thought she would and she’s taken a little bit of work to get her to where she is.”



Champion jockey Colin Keane is looking forward to Longines Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown
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Image:

Healy Racing)




Keane does not expect the drop back to 1m 2f to inconvenience the nine-time winner, as she bids to topple superstar three-year-old St Mark’s Basilica – Paddy Power’s 7-4 favourite.

Tarnawa had her first start since her fruitful journey to Keeneland last November in the Group Three Ballyroan Stakes earlier this month.

After she briefly unseated Keane leaving the chute and was loaded without him, the race went much more smoothly as she eased six-and-a-half lengths clear of Silence Please.







Tarnawa thriving physically ahead of Irish Champion Stakes showdown
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“She’s not a slow filly,” Keane added in the pre-event press call.

“She travels strongly and has a good turn of a foot. If it was genuine good ground I wouldn’t have any concerns.

“It’s going to be a very good race. St Mark’s Basilica looks very good this year; Poetic Flare has been very good for Mr Bolger and Kevin (Manning).”






Success in the highlight on day one of Longines Irish Champions Weekend would be another towards Keane’s bid to become the most successful jockey ever in an Irish season.

Originally deputising for Christophe Soumillon aboard Tarnawa, after he twice tested positive for Covid-19, Keane has Joseph O’Brien’s record of 126 winners firmly in his sights.

“It is probably very doable if I can keep going the way it is, so fingers crossed it can and we will give it our best go,” he added.



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