Irish trainer Dermot Weld knows what it takes to saddle the winner of the Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes over 1m 4f at Ascot, so his improving Tarnawa looks a lively each-way contender for this Group 1 race on British Champions Day on Saturday (14:45).
This three-year-old daughter of Shamardal has won four of her six starts this season and improved throughout the campaign.
After landing a Leopardstown maiden over 10 furlongs on reappearance, she was far from disgraced when a 1 3/4 lengths third to Pink Dogwood in the Salsabil Stakes at Navan.
Taranwa then resumed winning ways by overhauling the useful Who’s Steph by a neck in the Group 3 Blue Wind at Naas.
Although then failing to fire in the Epsom Oaks, connections gave her a mid-season break.
This Aga Khan owned filly proved she handled a softer surface on her return with victory in the Give Thanks Stakes at Cork despite running under a penalty.
The way Tarnawa stayed on strongly and won comfortably mean there are no stamina doubts. She also had the re-opposing Delphinia in-behind her in third.
Taranwa then took the step up into Group 2 company in her stride when landing the Blandford Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend after keeping on well to account for Goddess by 1 1/2 lengths.
With the Aidan O’Brien contingent all looking much of a muchness, this Irish raider is preferred as a bit of each-way value to make the frame at 7/1 with Bethard for the Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes.
Star Catcher sets Champions Fillies And Mares standard
Newmarket handler John Gosden has phenomenal strength-in-depth among his fillies and saddled the winners of both the English and Irish Oaks this season.
That Classic winning form sets the standard here with Star Catcher made favourite over Anapurna.
The former carries the colours of owner Anthony Oppenheimer carried to famous victories by Cracksman and Golden Horn.
Star Catcher is a daughter of Sea The Stars who has won her last three races.
They include a nice course and distance victory on soft ground in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
As Star Catcher then followed-up in the Irish Oaks under Frankie Dettori when making all and setting her own fractions superbly, she is the one to beat.
She also made all in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille over in France last time out.
The top rated Anapurna was a one-pace 5 3/4 lengths seventh behind Star Catcher, but had been given a mid-season break after her own success.
Dettori again prefers Star Catcher of the two Oaks winners, who is a worthy favourite but not much value at 7/4 with Unibet. She is respected and feared most, though.
Anapurna, meanwhile, has since stripped fitter for her return to action and landed another Group 1 at Longchamp over further.
She made all at an ordinary pace, holding the aforementioned Delphinia by 1 1/2 lengths.
The daughter of Frankel also acted on soft ground as the 1m 6f trip took some getting in France.
As Anapurna’s stamina is not in doubt, she too commands respect in the Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes at 9/2 with Betfred.
Whether she is entitled to a rating of 1lb higher than Star Catcher is a different matter, however, especially as the market is with her stable companion.
Delphinia and Fleeting best of O’Brien quartet
Aidan O’Brien has won the last two renewals of this, and he launches a four-pronged attack on the Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes this year.
Delphinia and Fleeting are the highest rated of his quartet and no forlorn hopes for the frame here
The former drops back in trip after two runs over further. Delphinia is a daughter of the mighty Galileo who has run some great races in defeat this season.
They include when twice finishing third to Tarnawa in Group 3s over in Ireland. Delphinia was also far from disgraced when a four-length fifth in the Epsom Oaks when never able to challenge.
She has since just failed to overhaul Enbihaar by a short-head in a Group 2 at Doncaster, before reversing that form in France when chasing Anapurna home.
Now back down in trip, Delphinia is another to consider each-way at 20/1 with Betfair here.
Fleeting, meanwhile, has been an unlucky filly who has often found trouble in-running.
If the cards drop right for the daughter of Zofffany, however, then she can easily be involved in the finish.
She was denied a clear run in the Epsom Oaks but still ran on well to be third.
It was a similar story in the Ribblesdale here when Fleeting chased Star Catcher, who then confirmed form in the Irish Oaks.
A line can be put through her run in America where Fleeting was hampered.
She was then a two-length fifth in the Vermeille but strongly pressed Villa Marina in the Prix de l’Opera to go down by just a short-neck on Arc weekend.
Soft ground is fine for Fleeting and that’s why she is another with claims of the frame at 15/2 with SportNation in an absorbing renewal of the Champions Fillies And Mares Stakes.