Tahiyra and Vadeni could supply Aga Khan with notable Group One double at Curragh

Christophe Soumillon back at Irish racing’s HQ to team up with former boss

A synergy of the Aga Khan’s best talent could supply the world-renowned owner with a notable classic Sunday at the Curragh.

In front of the spectacular grandstand named in his honour, the 86-year-old Ismaili Muslim leader will have his colours carried by the odds-on favourite Tahiyra in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas while his best older horse, Vadeni, lines up for Sunday’s other Group One highlight.

The latter comes from France having been supplemented into the Tattersalls Gold Cup at a cost of €45,000 earlier in the week.

In contrast, Tahiyra barely has a 200 metre walk from Dermot Weld’s base to try to gain classic consolation on the back of her narrow defeat in the Newmarket Guineas earlier this month.


She will be accompanied by another Aga Khan filly in Tarawa who will also carry the famous green silks in the €500,000 feature.

All of 40 years after the grotesque theft of his most famous horse of all, Shergar, from nearby Ballymany Stud, such a concentration of talent underlines both the Aga’s longevity in racing but also his commitment to the sport here.

The benefactor who handed the Turf Club a reputed €15 million to buy the old Stand House Hotel, beginning the tortuous process that eventually led to the rebuilt Curragh opened in 2019, has enjoyed half a dozen Irish Derby victories at HQ as well as two wins each in the Oaks and St Leger.

However Irish Guineas success of any kind has been elusive, and he hasn’t scored in the Gold Cup either.

His grandfather, Aga Khan III, won both classics. His father, the Aly Khan, landed back-to-back renewals of the 1,000 in 1958-59. Victory for Tahiyra – or Tarawa – would particularly resonate for the entire Aga Khan team in Ireland whose base is at nearby Gilltown Stud.

Were it not for fine weather conditions over the last 10 days, Tahiyra might have been regarded as more of a shoo-in to fill the rare gap on her owner’s classic CV.

A brilliant success in last year’s Moyglare yielded her European champion status but Weld’s fears about Newmarket coming a fortnight sooner than ideal ultimately looked borne out in a ding-dong battle with Mawj.

The summer heat that has filled most of the fortnight since has no doubt been of benefit physically to her but with it comes quicker ground than she’s ever raced on before.

Her top-class half-sister Tarnawa won at the Breeders’ Cup on a firm surface but no one in the Weld team is likely to bemoan the watering that has been going on all week.

Tarawa, runner-up on her seasonal debut at Leopardstown, hasn’t raced on quick going either but might be bred to appreciate it more. Aidan O’Brien’s Mediate and her supplemented stablemate Jackie Oh should relish it.

Ultimately though, and based on evidence to date, it could be a case of Tahiyra’s race to lose.

Vadeni is top-rated for his clash with old rivals Bay Bridge and Luxembourg in an impressive looking older-horse highlight as Christophe Soumillon once again teams up with last year’s French Derby and Eclipse winner.

The Curragh has been a mixed-hunting ground for the Belgian. He landed the Oaks on Shawanda in 2005. But it is 20 years since Soumillon was widely pilloried for getting ‘mugged’ by Johnny Murtagh in the Derby as the Aga Khan’s pair Alamshar and Dalakhani fought out a memorable finish.

Having lost his long-term retainer with the Aga in France last year, Soumillon was back on board Vadeni in last month’s Ganay where the colt finished a place behind Bay Bridge as they both failed to cope with Iresine.

The difference this time is ground conditions while the difference between Vadeni and Luxembourg – who emerged on top in last September’s Irish Champion Stakes – is the latter’s underwhelming return to action.

By even the richest standards, a €45,000 supplementary fee is quite an expression of faith and Vadeni has to be fancied to pull off the first leg of a potentially famous double for his owner.

In between Sunday’s two top-flight contests is the Lanwades Stud Stakes where the admirable mare Insinuendo lines up rather than taking on Vadeni & Co.

The unknown factor in this is the expensive purchase Jumbly who has her first start for Joseph O’Brien. Ryan Moore teams up with the regally bred ex-Roger Charlton trained filly who cost her new owners all of 1.23 million guineas during the winter.

She was a Group Three winner on quick ground at Ascot last year so conditions should suit.

Moore is on board Saxon Warrior’s full-brother Drumroll in the Heider Gallinule Stakes and this is the sort of going the colt is bred to relish while Star Galaxy’s last effort gives her a clear shot in the following maiden.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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