Odds-on Tahiyra overcomes draw concerns to secure Irish 1,000 Guineas glory

Chris Hayes guides Dermot Weld trained star to Classic success at the Curragh

If prohibitive odds of 2-5 about Tahiyra were to the forefront of most punting minds prior to Sunday’s Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas, then Chris Hayes’s relief at her victory in the Curragh Classic reflected his pre-race nerves about another number.

“I was worried about the draw and didn’t know what way I was going to play it. I played this race a million times since declaration time and when I saw I was drawn in one, my heart sank,” admitted the jockey afterwards.

With options reduced, it meant Hayes was stuck on the rail off a pedestrian pace and wide open to criticism if unable to extricate the Classic ‘good thing’.

Throw in how Tahiyra’s ability to use her devastating speed on quick ground was unproven and the ‘SP’ was tribute to her quality, as well as a widespread belief she would improve for her narrow defeat in the English Guineas earlier this month.


That Dermot Weld’s star eventually came through to beat her market rival Meditate by a length and a half couldn’t deflect from the tiny margins involved when, with space at a premium, Hayes managed to manouvere her out at a critical point two furlongs out.

“The gap was tight when we went for it and while she isn’t very big, is all heart,” he said.

With clear air in front of her, Tahiyra was always in control and replicated her brilliant Moyglare victory over Mediate last September.

It was back-to back wins in the race for Hayes after riding Weld’s Homeless Songs to success a year ago, while it was a sixth Guineas for the local trainer.

Tahiyra is now a 5-4 favourite with some firms to get the better of her Newmarket conqueror Mawj in Royal Ascot’s Coronation Stakes next month.

“I knew we could do no more at Newmarket but I was very deflated after and I took it hard,” Hayes conceded. “I was delighted racing was called off the next day because you don’t get opportunities like that too often.

“It was just self-criticism but we were able to get things right today. Tactically I had to be very aware from where I was drawn and I needed a willing partner, and by God she’s good.

“Ideally, she’d like a faster pace but it’ll show you how good she is when she can adapt to circumstances like that. I’d always consider myself a journeyman jockey so it was the most pressure,” he added.

It’s a notably modest label considering Hayes has now ridden four of Weld’s 21 Curragh Classic winners, not to mention a 2,000 Guineas on Awtaad for his mentor Kevin Prendergast.

Weld also admitted to concerns about the draw but was content in having the fastest filly in the race, who is by Siyouni, the same sire as Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas winner Paddington.

“She was in a pocket, but when you have a very good horse they have the pace to get out of that pocket. I was always comfortable.

“The plan was to hold on to her and ride her for speed. My only concern was whether she would let herself down on the quick ground. They have done a good job here.

“We’ll see how she comes out of this race and obviously we will think about the Coronation Stakes,” said Weld.

Jim Bolger’s Comhra made a mockery of 150-1 odds to finish third while Weld’s Tarawa was fourth after enduring a tricky passage that favourite backers were glad to avoid.

There was no fairytale Classic finale for jockey Mark ‘Fish’ Enright’ who retired from the saddle on Sunday.

The former Galway Plate-winning rider was last of the 10 Guineas runners on the 50-1 outsider Aspen Grove.

Attendance levels over the three-day ‘Guineas Festival’ were 16 per cent up on last year’s figures.

Friday evening’s official attendance of 3,500 was a 23 per cent increase on 2022′s corresponding fixture while Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas was officially 5,977 – up 15 per cent.

Sunday’s crowd was tallied at 5,125 – up seven per cent on 2022 – for an overall total of 14,453.

“It has been a fabulous weekend with fabulous racing and we’ve got great feedback,” said the Curragh’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column