Eye-catchers from Irish Champions Weekend, the Leger meeting and Arc trials day

11.09.21 Leopardstown

2.45 TARNAWA - 2nd

https://twitter.com/ChampionsSeries/status/1436689304642805765?s=20

Tarnawa was making just her second start of the 2021 season having sauntered home here over a mile and a half in Group 3 company at the start of August and ran a belter to finish just ¾ of a length behind St Mark’s Basilica here. The fractions were far from electric early on but this meant the race for home would inevitably turn into a sprint turning in. With the mare settled last of four, she had a job on her hands to compete with the speed of two Guineas winners whilst also giving them weight for age, and she fought valiantly, inching closer to Ballydoyle’s leading light all the way to the line in what will probably go down as the race of the season so far. It’s also very easy to argue that she’d have likely been even closer if not for Aidan O’Brien’s star colt veering right across the course towards the stand’s side rail, carrying Tarnawa with him in the process.

Given she was dropping back in trip, she had no right to be keeping tabs on two colts who have boasted so much tactical speed over shorter trips this season but really held her own and looks a formidable proposition going into the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe come October 5th!

2.45 POETIC FLARE - 3rd

Poetic Flare has been a hell of a lot more productive than the Dermot Weld mare, making his 8th start since mid-April when landing the Irish 2,000 Guineas trial at this same venue. This was his first attempt stepping up to a mile and a quarter and the race probably panned out to his advantage with the emphasis placed on speed late on but he seemed to tie-up in the last 50/100 yards having gone toe-to-toe with St Mark’s Basilica all the way up the stretch. Kevin Manning had to restrain the colt to begin with and seemed to take a bit of a pull prior to turning in, likely filling the colt up for a stretch drive and he’s ran a cracker to be beaten just ¾ of a length by St Mark's Basilica and a nose behind Tarnawa.

He may well improve for that first start over a mile and a quarter, but my gut feeling is that he’d be better for a return to the mile. He’s got plenty of speed and doesn’t seem to know when he’s beaten. Has to be taken seriously wherever he turns up next.

12.09.2021 Curragh

https://twitter.com/RacingTV/status/1437053977598824453?s=20

2.55 ROHAAN - 5th

Rohaan arguably put up the most eye-catching display of the weekend having virtually walked out of the stalls, giving up nearly 10 lengths from the break. Shane Kelly began to work on the gelding from halfway and the pair gradually ate into the deficit. With the likes of Nunthorpe winner, Winter Power, the ultra-consistent Dragon Symbol and multiple Group 1 winner Glass Slippers helping to force the pace, it’s hard to believe he managed to finish just two lengths behind eventual winner Romantic Proposal at the finish, given the ground he gave up at the start.

Despite a couple of below par runs before this, he’s hardy and handles any ground, and whether it’s over 5f, 6f or 7f he seems to be capable of getting competitive against the best of these sprinters. I’d imagine he’ll end up back at the scene of his Wokingham Stakes win come QIPCO Champions Day but if that’s not his next port of call, wherever he goes, he needs to be shortlisted.

3.35 KING OF THE CASTLE - 4th

https://twitter.com/itvracing/status/1437142086176976907?s=20

This lad had an absolute nightmare of a trip in a well run edition of the Melrose Handicap at York in August when carrying top-weight in good company and still managed to make a really likable impression, and here he took it up a notch. Thrown into the deep end, against his elders for the first time and in Group 1 company no less, the Galileo colt settled towards the rear and was set an almighty task against seasoned stayers, but he plugged on dourly all the way to the line and picked up the pieces for a very credible 4th at the finish.

He doesn’t seem to have much of a turn of foot but stamina seems to be his strong suit and he could well turn into a cup horse next year given another winter behind him. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes next but clearly on the up and worth keeping an eye on.

08.09.2021 Doncaster

2.20 SAVVY VICTORY - 2nd

66/1 outsider of the nine, having been well beaten on debut, Savvy Victory put that experience to good use here to finish a much more encouraging second, in and among a handful of horses with big profiles. Sat in behind the leaders, travelling well within himself after some steady early fractions, Savvy Victory made smooth progress into the lead as the field fanned out across the course in the kick for home. The New Bay colt really attacked the ground in the final couple of furlongs but couldn’t hold off the sustained challenge of the regally bred Israr in the final 50 yards or so. A huge step in the right direction, this fella could prove even better with another run or two under his belt. Could be nice.

It’s also worth noting that Frantastic, who was really well supported in the market - and it’s really no surprise, given the pedigree - also caught the eye here on debut. He didn’t leave us feeling like we’d seen another Cracksman but the race didn’t really pan out in his favour, seemed caught for toe as the race developed into a sprint, but he only went down by two lengths despite looking first beaten two and a half furlongs out. Bound to be better for that and will likely want some juice in the ground to be seen to best effect.

3.25 POTAPOVA - 10th

https://twitter.com/WorldRacing1/status/1435612560221429767?s=20

Potapova was left in the dust on leaving the stalls, with a street to make up having stood still in the gates as they opened but Ryan Moore gradually nursed her into something like contention. Just as she tagged onto the rear of the field, the race heated up and Moore was forced into full drive to get her involved. It wasn’t too long before her effort dwindled but to have only gone down by 8 ½ lengths after the way she started, in an event run as quickly as this one, she ran a cracker and, for one still so inexperienced, she retains plenty of potential over the 7 furlongs.

10.09.2021 Doncaster

1.10 THE COOKSTOWN CAFU - 4th

https://twitter.com/AtTheRaces/status/1436302886821113864?s=20

The Cookstown Cafu carried his head in his chest after ducking out to his left on leaving the stalls but swiftly found his groove in the rear of the stands’ side group. However, exposed on the wing, he seemed to be run off of his feet for a few strides as the tempo increased but what caught the eye was that the colt responded well to Kevin Stott’s urgings. He didn’t get his head down and eat up the ground like you might hope but he demonstrated that there’s an engine under that bonnet and that when it all comes together for him, he could take some stopping!

1.10 KENNET - 9th

Kennet finished well adrift of The Cookstown Cafu here but raced up the centre of the course, some two or three lengths behind that rival throughout. This lad showed plenty of promise in the closing stages after getting outpaced 2 furlongs out. Kennet seemed to only be going backwards for about half a furlong but when it all started to click for the Iffraaj colt, he made some eye-catching late headway between horses and could have finished even closer if not for running up the back of the fading Bay Of Honour. Should be much more streetwise next time.

11.09.21 Doncaster

1.15 LA PULGA - 2nd

https://twitter.com/GoffsUK/status/1436667193098481671?s=20

La Pulga was allowed to lead a field of just four at his own leisurely gallop here with nobody willing to contest it, and Murphy was able to dictate when to turn the taps on. The striking Kodiac colt was able to burn his main market rival, Fall Of Rome, off as the race turned into a sprint, with Magic Warrior also falling away after trying to go toe-to-toe with him. But as La Pulga found himself alone again, he began to run around a bit in front and he couldn’t quite hold off the challenge of Devious Angel in the final half of a furlong. He only went down by a neck at the finish, despite giving away 9lbs to the winner and for all he still looked fairly green out in front, the colt left the impression that there still might be more to come. Looks one for the tracker!

2.20 REACH FOR THE MOON - 2nd

https://twitter.com/SportingLife/status/1436682525728968704?s=20

Reach For The Moon came here with a huge reputation after making light work of the Solario Stakes at Sandown but he couldn’t quite live up to the market hype, going down by a head to the smart Bayside Boy. Just as they did in La Pulga’s race a little earlier in the day, Reach For The Moon set steady fractions early on before winding it up with 2 and a half furlongs to run. As Dettori got down into his customary drive position, it looked like the pair were going to be tough to peg back but they couldn’t shrug off a sustained challenge from the Varian colt, and Twilight Jet - a colt who’s shown plenty of pace over shorter - ran a belter to stay within a length and a half of the pair at the line. I took the view that the race wasn’t run to suit the colt who could well need a greater test of stamina now. By Sea The Stars, he looked much more in his element when pulling further and further clear up the hill at Sandown last time out, than he did on this occasion and it might just be that a mile or more could be next on the agenda for this very talented colt. Remains exciting.

12.09.21 Longchamp

4.40 SPEAK OF THE DEVIL - 3rd

https://twitter.com/AtTheRaces/status/1437081243758309378?s=20

This daughter of Wootton Bassett has some really smart form in Group 1 company and ran to something like her best again here despite not quite getting the rub of the green when it mattered. The filly adopted usual waiting tactics and travelled well for a long way behind runners before trying to mount her challenge out wide. As the filly attempted to switch out, Erasmo fell back in her lap and as he almost came down, Speak Of The Devil was heavily interfered with, nearly colliding with the unseated Mickael Barzalona with just a furlong or so left to run. When finally in the clear, the filly quickened up smartly finishing with a flurry to get up for 3rd, just a length and a quarter behind the likable Sagamiyra who had a much easier time of things closer to the pace. Given the tactics they normally employ, she’s got risks attached but she could yet go on to bigger and better things. Good filly.

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