Ireland stole the show in the Group One Prix de l'Opera Longines at Longchamp as Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa led home a memorable one-two in front of Jessica Harrington’s Alpine Star, writes Will Jennings.
Aidan O’Brien, as well as sons Joseph and Donnacha, were forced to withdraw all their Sunday runners in Paris but the Irish flag continued to fly high as Weld’s filly won a thriller on Prix d l’Arc de Triomphe weekend.
Ridden by Christophe Soumillon, Tarnawa held off Harrington’s fellow raider by a neck in the 1m2f contest to scoop the £145,271 prize pot and make it a Sunday to remember in the French capital.
Tarnawa also won the Prix Vermeille three weeks ago and Weld’s son, Mark, reckons the four-year-old’s steeliness held the key to her second consecutive Group One triumph.
“She won the Vermeille and to come back just three weeks later, she’s a really tough, courageous mare,” he told Sky Sports Racing.
“That was a very special performance, it’s very hard to win here in France.
“This is always one of the best races — sometimes the best race of Arc weekend, we knew it was going to be tough and we knew the Niarchos filly (Alpine Star) had plenty of Group One form, she was always going to be the one to beat.
“We got there, it was a fantastic performance.”
It was a closely-congested field among the leaders at the one-furlong pole but Tarnawa delivered a searing late charge to reel in Alpine Star and hand Weld yet another Group glory.
Weld’s star filly Search for a Song won the Irish St. Leger on Irish Champions Weekend and the handler continued his impressive form on the continent, as Tarnawa made it three wins from three trips in her thrilling four-year-old season.
The prolific Shane Foley, who is duelling it out for the Champion Jockey crown alongside Colin Keane at the summit, piloted Alpine Star in Paris but was unable to thwart Tarnawa’s advances as the field approached the line.
The news about Sunday’s Ballydoyle runners - Mogul, Japan, Serpentine and Sovereign were entered for the big one at Longchamp - prevented an eighth successful Irish raider of the Arc but a one-two in the Prix de l’Opera, coupled with Princess Zoe’s Prix du Cadran win on Saturday, made it a successful weekend in France.
Weld’s star’s season is snowballing into success after success and son Mark says the prestigious Breeders’ Cup could easily be on the cards.
“We’ll have to discuss her future with His Highness (Aga Khan). She gets a free entry into the Breeders’ Cup, I believe, which is definitely a possibility,” he added.
“Whether she comes back next year will be up to His Highness and all the team. It’s fantastic, but she’s won two Group Ones now so we’ll enjoy today.”