St Mark’s Basilica and Tarnawa on course for Leopardstown clash

Weld and Aidan O’Brien stars among 13 left in for Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes

Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa is on course for Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Dermot Weld’s Tarnawa is on course for Saturday’s Irish Champion Stakes. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

St Mark’s Basilica and Tarnawa remain on course for an epic showdown after standing their ground in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The top-class pair feature among a list of 13 left in the Group One over a mile and a quarter following the latest forfeit and supplementary entry stage.

Tarnawa, winner of three Group Ones in the autumn, culminating in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, bids to give trainer Dermot Weld a belated first winner of the race. The five-year-old made a pleasing return to action with an easy win at Leopardstown five weeks ago.

St Mark’s Basilica has been a star three-year-old for Aidan O’Brien, with victories in the French 2000 Guineas, French Derby and Coral-Eclipse, although he had to miss the Juddmonte International at York last month.

O’Brien is responsible for seven of the possibles with Armory, Bolshoi Ballet, Innisfree, Love, Joan Of Arc and Snowfall completing his team.

His son Joseph is three-handed with Baron Samedi, Patrick Sarsfield and Thundering Nights.

Snowfall, Joan Of Arc and Thundering Nights are also in the Qatar Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.

Jim Bolger has the other two confirmations — the Newmarket 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes hero Poetic Flare, who will be trying 10 furlongs for the first time, and Mac Swiney, winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas.

Mac Swiney holds an alternative entry in the Clipper Logistics Boomerang Mile on the same card.

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