WHAT a magnificent weekend of racing we enjoyed in Ireland, and there were some great performances too in England and France. Many of the winners have been reviewed in previous columns, though there is no shortage either of new blood.

It is hard to pick just one highlight from the weekend’s racing, but if I was forced to vote for a single, breath-taking moment I would have to choose Tahiyra’s stunning success in the Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes. What a pleasure it was to see Princess Zahra Aga Khan at the Curragh to welcome back such a special filly, bred by her father, to the winners’ enclosure.

To put the performance in some sort of perspective, Tahiyra, on just her second start, won by more than two lengths from the unbeaten Meditate, the best juvenile filly we have seen from Ballydoyle this year, and that filly was four and a half lengths and more ahead of the rest. This was a brilliant victory.

As readers will know, there are only a handful of broodmares who are able to claim to be multiple Group or Grade 1 producers. Now we have one more to add to that venerable circle, Tarana (Cape Cross). She produced the brilliant Tarnawa (Shamardal) as her first foal, followed that with the Gowran Park maiden winner Tazaral (Fastnet Rock), and her third foal is the Moyglare winner.

Who knows, there may be even better to come. Tarana has a yearling colt by Frankel (Galileo) and a filly foal by Lope De Vega, a son of Tarnawa’s sire Shamardal (Giant’s Causeway). There is so much to look forward to at the Aga Khan Studs, both with Tahiyra and her younger siblings.

Tahiyra is the seventh Group/Grade 1 winner sired by Siyouni (Pivotal), and it is fair to say that when he sires such a winner it is a generally unforgettable one. His first crop contained Ervedya, an Aga Khan-bred three-time Group 1 winner who captured the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches-French 1000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes and Prix Saint-Alary. She is already dam of Erevann, a Group 3 winner who was beaten two necks by Inspiral in the Group 1 Prix Jacques Le Marois on her latest run.

Explosive start

Three crops later, born in 2015, along came Siyouni’s daughter Laurens, and she won six Group 1 races, also landing a classic when successful in the Prix de Diane-French Oaks. Two Group 1 winners with nine wins at that level between them. What an explosive start, but this was no flash in the pan.

Sottsass was born in 2016 and he became Siyouni’s first Group 1-winning son. Based now at Coolmore Stud, he captured the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club-French Derby, before adding the Prix Ganay and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Also in that crop was the Grade 1 E P Taylor Stakes heroine Etoile.

The classic winning rollercoaster continued in 2020 when Siyouni’s daughter Dream And Do won the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches-French 1000 Guineas, a year before St Mark’s Basilica won two French classics among his five successes at the highest level. He too is now a member of the stallion team at Coolmore.

Brilliant year

Tarnawa had a brilliant year in 2020, adding a first win for Dermot Weld, who also trains Tahiyra, in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf to victories in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille and Prix de l’Opera. She is the first foal of Tarana who won a maiden over a mile at two, was runner-up in the Listed Trigo Stakes at three and, in training with John Oxx again at four, won listed races at Galway and Limerick.

Tarana is a daughter of the Listed Galtres Stakes winner Tarakala (Dr Fong) and the best of her four winners, while that mare in turn was the best of nine winners from her dam Tarakana (Shahrastani) who was runner-up at Galway in the listed race won by her granddaughter, the Ardilaun House Hotel Oyster Stakes. This is a family that has a long association with the Aga Khan, while some branches have produced the likes of Group 1 winners Damson (Entrepreneur), Arcano (Oasis Dream) and Gilt Edge Girl (Monsieur Bond) for others.

In advance of the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, a quick word with my brother Brendan left me in no doubt how highly he regarded the Joseph O’Brien-trained Al Riffa. Sold from Haras d’Etreham, one of his band of breeders, for only €31,000 as a foal to Stroud Coleman Bloodstock, he was a profitable pinhook last year when he made 150,000gns in Book 1 at Tattersalls October Yearling Sale, purchased from Kilminfoyle House Stud by his trainer.

On just his third start Al Riffa put some smart colts to the sword, and a look at his physique will tell you that anything he achieves this year will be a bonus. He is a horse for next year and beyond.

Smart move

What a smart move Coolmore made when they snatched Wootton Bassett from the stallion ranks in France, and how he is repaying their faith. Al Riffa is his sixth Group 1 winner, and his second to do so at two after Zellie won last year’s Prix Marcel Boussac. They are joined on this exclusive roster by Almanzor, Audarya, Wooded and Incarville.

At the same sale in which Al Riffa sold as a foal, Zied Romdhane paid just €11,000 for his dam, the unraced Love On My Mind (Galileo). She was carrying a now yearling filly by Land Force (No Nay Never). How opportune was that purchase, given that Love On My Mind is now dam of a Group 1 winner and she is out of a mare, Moments Of Joy (Darshaan), that Coolmore spent 1,650,000gns on as a young mare.

Though she has not lived up to the expectations her sale price would suggest Coolmore had for her, Moments Of Joy is the dam of the Group 3 winner and Group 1 Gold Cup runner-up Mizzou (Galileo), the Group 3-placed winner and stakes producer Unity (Sadler’s Wells), and the Group 3-placed winner Eternal Bounty (Galileo).

At the same Tattersalls December Sale in 2005 that Moments Of Joy sold, her own dam My Emma (Marju), winner of the Group 2 Yorkshire Oaks and Group 1 Prix Vermeille, was purchased by BBA Ireland for 1,300,000gns.