By Nicholas Godfrey
So you know Europe totally dominated the turf at Keeneland with all four winners on Breeders’ Cup Saturday, headed by Tarnawa in the Turf and a Ballydoyle 1-2-3 in the Mile. You’ve probably seen the races – but here’s some other stuff you might like to know …
What’s going on?
Turf: Tarnawa fills gap on Weld’s CV
Irish great Dermot Weld has rightly earned legendary status for his pioneering international efforts which have seen him have major winners on four continents.
Weld, 72, remains the only European-based trainer ever to win a Triple Crown race thanks to Go And Go’s Belmont Stakes in 1990. As has long since gone down in racing folklore, he was also the first European to win the Melbourne Cup (with Vintage Crop in 1993 and again with Media Puzzle in 2002), and the first European to win at the Hong Kong International races (Additional Risk in 1991).
However, despite 16 previous runners, he had never won a Breeders’ Cup race until the Aga Khan’s Tarnawa completed a G1 hat-trick by sweeping down the Keeneland straight to thwart her admirable compatriot Magical by a length.
‘It doesn’t get any bigger than this’
With Dermot Weld staying in Ireland, the veteran trainer’s son Mark was on hand in Kentucky to welcome the winner. “We’re absolutely over the moon and it doesn’t get any bigger than this,” he said.
“I’m thrilled for His Highness the Aga Khan and his team and the people back home in Ireland. These overseas prestige races in the autumn are what we train them for and I’m sad my dad is not here, but the Covid situation put paid to that.
“My father has been a long-standing supporter of American racing ever since Go And Go won the Belmont back in 1990. He worked in the United States as a boy and it’s very special to him.”
Tarnawa 8-1 for the Arc 2021
Ladbrokes make Tarnawa 8-1 joint favourite for next year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe alongside dual Classic heroine Love. Weld has never won the Paris showpiece.
Arc 2021 betting (Ladbrokes): 8 Love, Tarnawa, 10 Contrail, 20 High Definition, Mishriff, 25 bar.
Covid-19: Soumillon misses two winners
Christophe Soumillon has every reason to rue the positive Covid-19 test that prevented his taking part at the Breeders’ Cup as it cost him a double on Saturday’s card.
Not only was the Belgian due to maintain his association with Tarnawa, whom he had ridden to win the Prix Vermeille and Prix de l’Opera on her previous two starts, but he had received the call-up from Coolmore subsequent Mile winner Order Of Australia.
Supersub role for Colin Keane
One man’s meat is another man’s poison, so they say – and newly crowned Irish champion Colin Keane grasped his opportunity to ride for Dermot Weld for the first time with a cool effort on Tarnawa.
“It’s been a brilliant year,” said Keane, who rode winners of both the Irish 2,000 Guineas (Siskin) and Oaks (Even So) in 2020 for his main employer Ger Lyons.
“It’s lovely to get this victory going home and it’s definitely the icing on the cake for the year we’ve had,” added Keane, who has been linked to a future job with Ballydoyle.
Aga Khan: memories are made of this
Tarnawa is a four-year-old daughter of Shamardal homebred by the Aga Khan, whose famous green-and-red colours enjoyed success with the sole European winner at the inaugural Breeders’ Cup at Hollywood Park in 1984 – in the same race, with the Alain de Royer-Dupre-trained Lashkari and Yves Saint-Martin.
Mile: O’Brien famine over with stunning clean sweep
Aidan O’Brien ended a two-year Breeders’ Cup drought in sensational (and unlikely) fashion in the Mile as unconsidered 73-1 longshot Order Of Australia led home an amazing 1-2-3 from Ballydoyle stablemates Circus Maximus and Lope Y Fernandez.
O’Brien was taking his BC record to 13 winners – a lot more than any other visiting trainer – but he hadn’t struck since Mendelssohn’s Juvenile Turf victory at Del Mar in 2017 after blanks at Churchill Downs and Santa Anita. He was also 0 for 24 in the Mile!
With O’Brien absent from Kentucky, traveling head lad Pat Keating did the post-race honours. “It’s remarkable to have the first three home,” he said after the daughter of dual Derby winner Australia got home by a neck.
The winner was bred by Aidan’s wife Anne-Marie out of Senta’s Dream, making him a half-brother to Iridessa, who won the Filly & Mare Turf 12 months ago.
Shock result as Order Of Australia scores at 73-1
Order Of Australia’s win dividend of $148.40 – about 73-1 – on the US pari-mutuel is one of the biggest-ever BC payouts. Mind you, it still falls some way short of the biggest shock in the event’s history, namely Arcangues’s extraordinary 133-1 Classic success at Santa Anita in 1993. That dividend (to a $2 stake) was $269.20.
There was also more than a hint of good fortune about the Mile result, as Order Of Australia got into the race only as first reserve after One Master was ruled out. He had been due to run on the undercard, with Hollie Doyle in the saddle.
Boudot benefits from Covid-19 spares
Pierre-Charles Boudot had never ridden a Breeders’ Cup winner before Saturday. He went on to ride a double on Order Of Australia (Mile) and Audarya (Filly & Mare Turf), both rides picked up only as a result of other riders missing out after contracting Covid-19.
Ioritz Mendizabal had been due to ride Audarya, while Christophe Soumillon was booked for Order Of Australia. Both riders have recently failed Covid-19 tests.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Boudot, who is running away with the Cravache d’Or (French jockeys’ title). “It is only by chance to get these rides and I’m sorry for Ioritz Mendizabal and Christophe Soumillon. It’s a difficult situation with Covid, but I was given two nice opportunities.”
Ironically, Boudot had looked set to miss out on riding in the Mile when One Master, his intended ride, was scratched after a late setback, having been setfast on her arrival in the States.
No joy for Kameko and Siskin on final runs
Kameko and Siskin, 2,000 Guineas winners in Britain and Ireland respectively, could finish only seventh and nine respectively on their last outings before going to stud.
Sent off favourite in both America and Britain, Qatar Racing’s Kameko raced just behind the front rank but the writing was on the wall as champion jockey Oisin Murphy began asking for an effort in the stretch and the colt weakened.
“He had a good trip,” said Murphy. “His preparation went very well. You have to remember that he was a classic winner back in June and has been on the go quite a bit.”
Siskin was never a factor, while Yorkshire-trained Safe Voyage also struggled to go the pace and finished last.
Filly & Mare Turf: Audarya is ‘biggest win’ of Fanshawe’s career
Newmarket stalwart James Fanshawe had never before saddled a Breeders’ Cup runner in 30 years in the job. He had, though, attended the event once before – back in 1986 when assistant to Sir Michael Stoute as he ran Sonic Lady and Milligram.
“It’s the biggest win of our whole career, isn’t it?” said his wife Jacko, an integral part of the operation at Pegasus Stables.
Fanshawe expressed sympathy for Ioritz Mendizabal, who missed the ride owing to a positive Covid-19 test, leaving colleague Pierre-Charles Boudot to take the ride.
“Ioritz and Pierre-Charles share the same agent, so Ioritz was able to explain how to ride her and what her strengths were. It’s looks like he gave him the right instructions,” said Fanshawe.
The Wootton Bassett filly carries the colours of Alison Swinburn, daughter of former owner-trainer Peter Harris and wife of legendary jockey Walter Swinburn, who died in 2016.
On a day for track records, Audarya posted another one as she wore down the favourite Rushing Fall to win by a neck – 1m52.72 for the 1m1½f.
Rushing Fall and Sistercharlie retired
Rushing Fall and Sistercharlie, both winners at previous Breeders’ Cups, are to be retired after finishing second and sixth behind Audarya.
Brown felt the distance was just a bit too far for Rushing Fall, who goes to the paddocks as a G1 winner aged two, three, four and five.
“I thought she was going to be able to pull it off in deep stretch there but it wasn’t to be,” he said. “She’s had an outstanding career. She’s definitely the horse of a lifetime for anybody including me.
“Sistercharlie is another one where it was her last race, she just had a remarkable career for us.”
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Uni is also set for retirement.
Turf Sprint: Glass Slippers will be back for more
European-trained horses had a shocking record in the Turf Sprint, having gone 0 for 13 altogether and none being placed since Diabolical finished second for Godolphin in the first running in 2008 – and even he was a former US dirt sprinter.
After Glass Slippers had bucked that trend in no uncertain terms with a half-length victory, trainer Kevin Ryan said the four-year-old would stay in training in 2021 with another Breeders’ Cup in mind.
“It’s great that she will be back for another season next year,” said Ryan. “If things go to plan I would love to come back to run in this race at Del Mar.”
North Yorkshire-based Ryan had had only one previous BC runner in the shape of East, who finished second in the Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2018.
‘She is the best I’ve ever bred in 40 years’
Winning owner-breeder Terry Holdcroft of Bearstone Stud said Glass Slippers’s triumph was the result of long-term planning. “We had a programme at the start of the year and we didn’t budge from it,” he said.
“We won a qualifying Group 1 in Ireland [Flying Five] and only just missed out on the Abbaye and one of the reasons to keep her in training is that things might change – we haven’t been able to go racing at home and it was such a great opportunity to be able to come here and watch her run.
“This is a day I will never forget. I’ve been breeding horses for over 40 years and she is the best I’ve ever bred. It’s lovely that we kept her and didn’t sell her.”
Tom Eaves gets by with a little help from his friend
After making a winning Breeders’ Cup debut on Glass Slippers, jockey Tom Eaves thanked Ryan Moore for his input. “I talked to Ryan Moore who rode her in her last race,” he said. “He knows the track well and said that was the right thing to sit down there and ride for a bit of luck. It paid off!”
Shall we talk about it?
Kevin Ryan (Glass Slippers’s trainer): “This filly is very, very special. To come and compete against the best sprinters in the world and beat them is just amazing. She’s a filly who thrives later in the year and travels well. I know she’s never been this far but when she goes to France she seems to thrive and eats well.
“It’s been a funny year for us in the UK, and with this filly you have to plan her races out as she is a filly who improves as the year goes on. We knew she goes round a bend very well, as she had won at Chester, and Tom had a word with Ryan Moore who told him to take his time and opt for the shortest route. We decided going on a brave ride up the inner and go the shortest route and if it didn’t work, such is life. Being over five and a half furlongs, that extra half a furlong was massive.”
Tom Eaves (Glass Slippers’s jockey): “It’s amazing and she’s a star. Kevin knows his horses like the back of his hand and told me the other day he couldn’t be happier with her; she was in great form. It was a brilliant performance by Kevin, who brought her along all year and thanks to the owners for keeping me on her out here – it’s a day I’ll never forget.”
James Fanshawe (Audarya’s trainer): “We took it step by step with her and found that she really improved for a step up to a mile and a quarter. She won a tiny race at Newcastle and then managed to win the G1 Romanet in France after which we mapped out a proper campaign, which started with a very good run in the Prix de l’Opera, in which she was done by the lack of pace.
“It then left us with six weeks before the Breeders’ Cup and Alison [Swinburn, owner] was very keen to go. We did have a slight concern before Deauville about whether she would handle soft ground, because she is a very good mover, but it seems she can go on anything.
“The plan now will be for her to remain in training and if she remains in one piece hopefully she will come back to the States to run in this race at Del Mar.”
Pierre-Charles Boudot (Order Of Australia’s jockey): “Aidan told me before the race that he was a special horse for the mile and he was confident of a good run on a small track. He did very well and the trip was perfect. The draw in 14 was difficult, but I took a nice place behind the leaders and he had a nice turn of foot.”
Ryan Moore (Circus Maximus’s jockey): “My horse ran lovely. He ran a solid race.”
Frankie Dettori (Lope Y Fernandez’s jockey): “He ran very well. I lost my spot on the turn. That cost me a bit. Then he came in good.”
Mark Weld (son of Dermot Weld, Tarnawa’s trainer): “This is a remarkable filly and we’ve been on a wonderful journey with her. She’s like a jet; she sees the runway and off she goes. Dad has a done a remarkable job and deserves so much credit.”
Colin Keane (Tarnawa’s jockey): “Mr Weld gave me a call and told me what was happening, and then he rang again today and said it would have been lovely if I’d sat on her before, because she takes a bit of knowing.
“Mr Weld said get her out the gates and ride her as you find her. I spoke to Oisin Orr and he said she’s very straightforward. We just tipped away down the back straight then we got going before the bend then off she went. We got a clean run then and she was very good to the line.”
Ryan Moore (Magical’s jockey): “It wasn’t the result we were looking for, but we have to take it.”