Search For A Song couldn’t put a seal on a notable international weekend for Irish racing when finishing only fourth in Sunday’s French St Leger at Paris-Longchamp.
The Dermot Weld-trained mare was at the back of the field with five furlongs to go in the in the €350,000 Prix Royal Oak and could only stay on in the closing stages under rider Colin Keane behind the English-trained winner Scope.
It was an outcome in notable contrast to Saturday’s successes with Joseph O’Brien underlining his stellar reputation in Australia as State Of Rest won a dramatic finish for the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley racecourse in Melbourne.
Ridden by the former National Hunt jockey Johnny Allen, who has become one of the leading Flat riders in Victoria, State Of Rest edged the local favourite Anamoe in a desperate finish and survived a stewards' enquiry to land Australia's most coveted weight for age prize.
Aidan O’Brien won the Cox Plate with Adelaide in 2014. But with two Melbourne Cup victories already in the bag, his eldest son’s latest big-race feat down under had local media describing him as the best young trainer in the world.
Later on Saturday O’Brien Snr secured a record-equaling 10th victory in the Vertem Futurity as the hot-pot Luxembourg cemented his status as favourite for next year’s Derby with a smooth success at Doncaster.
“He’s always been very exciting. Today he had to get down and stretch in the last furlong which was good for him. He was very babyish in front but he’s a lovely horse,” O’Brien said after equalling the late Henry Cecil’s haul in the final Group One of the year in Ireland and Britain.
It brought Ballydoyle’s top-flight haul for the year to 18 so far, a tally that could increase in the upcoming Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar where ground conditions are set to be very different to the testing going on which Search For A Song struggled in Paris.
Her defeat was an anti-climax for Keane who’d ridden a hat-trick at Leopardstown the day before and was also celebrating getting back on Tarnawa for a probable repeat bid on the Breeders’ Cup Turf on Saturday week.
Replaced by Christophe Soumillon when Tarnawa was runner-up in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe earlier this month, Keane has regained the mount on the Aga Khan-owned star for her US date.
"Colin Keane will ride Tarnawa at the Breeders' Cup. She has an entry in the Filly & Mare but it is more likely she will run in the $4 million Turf," Dermot Weld explained.
“She got an excellent ride from Christophe Soumillon in the Arc, and when she won two Group Ones for him last year, so it is no reflection on him.
“But Colin did win the Breeders’ Cup on her last year and was on her when she won a Group race at Leopardstown and in the Irish Champion Stakes.
“He also rides her work here every week and knows the mare very well. Seeing as he was successful in America last year, I just think he is the right choice,” he added.
Keane will be back in action at Galway on Bank Holiday Monday with rides in all eight races there.
There is jump action at Wexford and with the featured Listed Chase having thrown up the subsequent Gold Cup hero Minella Indo, there will be focus on his stable companion Eklat De Rire this time.
The 152-rated chaser is Rachael Blackmore’s first ride over fences since her comeback from a near 100-day injury lay-off over the weekend.