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Colin Keane: Tarnawa and my rides on Irish Champions Weekend

Fri 10 Sep 2021

"It’s some of the best racing, best horses, best prize money and best jockeys and trainers taking each other on. These are the two days we really look forward to throughout the year."

Get set for Longines Irish Champions Weekend - live on Racing TV!

Colin Keane can't wait for Longines Irish Champions Weekend on Saturday, with Tarnawa the champion jockey's headline ride in the feature race of the meeting up against the likes of Poetic Flare and St Mark's Basilica in a thrilling Irish Champion Stakes.

The rider thinks this is the ideal race for Tarnawa and believes the star mare can hold her own against the colts as she bids for a sixth successive victory - despite dropping back down in trip from a mile and a half.

Keane said: "Obviously we're coming back two furlongs which I don’t think will be too much of a problem. She's not a slow filly, she travels strongly and has a good turn of foot at the end of a mile and half. If it was genuine good ground and not proper quick ground, I wouldn’t have any concerns."

Keane reports Tarnawa in good form, as well as physically stronger now as a five-year-old.

"She seems to be a much stronger physical this year. She had a good break after the Breeders' Cup and came back in late, I think that was the plan. She did very well over the winter, probably better than initially thought and she's taken a little bit of work to get her to where she is. She's definitely stronger."

 Tarnawa made an excellent impression on her belated return in the Ballyroan last time - her fifth straight win (Photo: Focusonracing)
Tarnawa made an excellent impression on her belated return in the Ballyroan last time - her fifth straight win (Photo: Focusonracing)

Keane is wary of the opposition in the top-class contest that regularly ranks as one of the world's best in the end-of-year international rankings.

“St Mark’s Basilica looks very good this year and Poetic Flare has been very good, so if he turns up it’s going to be a good renewal of the race.

“These are the races we all want to be riding in, you get the most buzz out of them. The best horses, the highest level against the best riders – I’m very much looking forward to it now.”

Here, Keane gives a guide to some other of his other contenders on Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

ATOMIC JONES

KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes

He's a gorgeous big horse by Wootton Bassett and won his maiden up the Curragh. He's not a horse we’ll run a whole pile more this year - if he does run you probably won't see the best of him until next year. He’s a massive big colt so he is – he kind of surprised us that he rocked up the first day to be honst, we thought he might take the run. He’s not a horse that kills himself at home, he saves a bit for himself.

MAKER OF KINGS

Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile

He's a lovely horse to have in the yard and very consistent. He'd been running well in defeat and I just thought he’s just saving a little bit for himself, he kind of always goes to the line with his ears pricked. So we put blinkers on for his last two runs and he’s probably had two career-bests out of it to be honest. The last day was certainly a career best. He seems to be training well and hopefully he’ll give another good account of himself.

DUKE DE SESSA

Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes

We think he’s a very nice horse, we thought a lot of him going to Galway. I thought the only thing that might beat him was the track and first-time out and to be honest it did. He rectified that in the Curragh the last day and he kind of showed us what he'd been showing us at home. We do think he’s pretty smart alright.

 Colin Keane is excited about impressive Curragh winner Duke De Sessa (Photo: Focusonracing)
Colin Keane is excited about impressive Curragh winner Duke De Sessa (Photo: Focusonracing)

FRENETIC

Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes

She bombed out on her first run back for us in Cork this year on slow ground but the boss got her back to what I thought was nearly one of her best performances, back in Cork again in handicap company carrying top-weight against all the older horses. At Tipperary the last day she was probably drawn on the wrong side and the ground was a tad slow where we were. She never felt comnfortable and I thought that was very much a below-par run for her. She’d have to bounce back to her best to be getting involved, but if she did she would have every chance. It’s very open.

SEARCH FOR A SONG

Comer Group International Irish St Leger

No, I think she's Oisin Orr's ride. He rides her in all her work and has been riding her all year. I don't think I'll be riding her. It would be a fair achievement to win this three years in a row and she seems in good nick. I rode work beside her the other morning; she came up well and Oisin seemed to be very happy with her. Hopefully she can do it.

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