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'She's been wonderful' - Weld praises Tarnawa after mare is retired

Tarnawa: globetrotting mare bows out after her run at the Breeders' Cup last weekend
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Dermot Weld ranked Tarnawa among the finest horses he has trained in his nearly 50-year career when revealing on Thursday the Aga Khan's exceptional mare had been retired. 

After Tarnawa failed to fire in last weekend’s Breeders’ Cup Turf at Del Mar, a decision was taken to call time on the career of a mare who has been among the highest-rated performers in Europe over the last two seasons.

Speaking to the Racing Post, Weld said: "She goes into honourable retirement after being the most brilliant racemare for me to train. She's put in some magnificent performances at the highest level – she's been wonderful.

Tarnawa: ridden by key Rosewell rider Dean Sinnott ahead of her Breeders' Cup bid at Del Mar last week

"We saw her race for four seasons and she got better with every run. She's right up there with the very best I've ever trained because she had some terrific qualities of determination, talent and class."

An impressive winner of the Prix Vermeille and Prix de l'Opera before beating the boys in a high-quality edition of the Breeders' Cup Turf at Keeneland last season, Tarnawa was sportingly kept in training for 2021 with the aim of landing the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

Tarnawa career details

Despite a bold bid in extremely testing conditions, the daughter of Shamardal came up short, finishing three-quarters of a length behind shock German winner Torquator Tasso.

It was a second near miss of the campaign for the 122-rated mare, having been edged out by the same margin in a controversial Irish Champion Stakes when St Mark's Basilica leaned across the track in her path.

St Mark's Basilica (second left) drifts across the track in front of Tarnawa before winning the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown

"I very much appreciated His Highness keeping her in training as a five-year-old because it's not his policy," said Weld.

"She rewarded that decision with two fabulous efforts when just touched off by the Cartier Horse of the Year in St Mark's Basilica at Leopardstown, and then in the Arc.

"I would say that with average luck, a little better ground and a nicer draw, she could have won in Paris. I feel the draw may have cost her the Arc.

"She had marvellous determination and what an addition she will be her His Highness's broodmare band. It was one of my biggest ambitions to win a major race at the Breeders' Cup and she fulfilled that at Keeneland last year."

Tarnawa: unstoppable in last season's Breeders' Cup Turf at Keeneland

A gruelling Longchamp test last month has been cited as a factor in Tarnawa's disappointing Breeders' Cup effort last weekend, when she finished 11th of 14 behind Yibir.

"I would feel that the edge had maybe just come off her somewhat," Weld added. "She was in great form coming into the race but had an exceptionally tough race in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on extremely testing ground. She gave her all in trying to win the Arc.

"Combining that with the long travel to California just took the edge off her. She looked magnificent and everything was right with her, but the mental sharpness just wasn't quite there."

Read more:

Weld rues tactics as St Mark's Basilica survives inquiry and Tarnawa challenge

Yibir takes Turf glory to cap remarkable Breeders' Cup for Appleby and Buick

Catch our new in-depth review of the weekend's racing every Monday in the Racing Post. With big-race analysis from Grand National-winning jockey Leighton Aspell, Chris Cook's take on the weekend action, eyecatchers from the Raceform team, weekly awards and more, it is not to be missed.

She's right up there with the very best I've ever trained because she had some terrific qualities of determination, talent and class
E.W. Terms