Classic winning trainer David Payne makes a habit of unearthing potential 3-year-old staying stars at this stage of most juvenile racing seasons and may well have his next bright prospect in the form of Tarka (by All Too Hard), winner of the TAB Handicap (1600m) on Sydney’s midweek program at Warwick Farm.
Having only his third outing in public, the well-bred son of All Too Hard stepped up to the metric mile trip for the first time in his career and managed to score in the style of a colt that could well be figuring in a race such as the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes — a feature Payne won with Ace High this season, and in which the trainer also saddled-up Tarka’s close relation Honorius to place during his 3-year-old campaign.
Despite being easy in the market, Tarka hardly raised a sweat to open-up his winning account.
Positioned just off the pace in fourth position during the early and middle stages, the lightly-raced colt had little difficulty in seizing the lead with 450m to race, before going on to score by close on two clear lengths relatively unchallenged.
Sent to post a $5.50 chance after being as short as $2.90 at one stage of the betting, Tarka actually came home one and three-quarter lengths clear of Salsa Man ($8.50), with the short-priced favourite Task And Purpose ($2.10F) claiming third a half-head in arrears of the runner-up.
Tarka races in the livery of Kia Ora Stud, the colt’s breeder.
His dam, Gayika, is a half-sister to the aforementioned Honorius, who also carried the distinctive two-tone blue colours of Kia Ora to victory in a Group 3 Craven Plate, after having twice placed at Group 1 level — Spring Champion Stks and Queensland Derby — during his Classic season.
Significantly, the immediate family also includes Igugu, South Africa’s Horse of the Year in 2010/11 during a glittering International career.
With the name of Galileo also very prominent in Tarka’s pedigree as his damsire, today’s Warwick Farm winner looks well on the path of a prominent middle-distance and staying career under the guidance of a veteran trainer with a proven record of developing untapped potential.
Hoofnote: In addition to the victory of Ace High and placing of Honorius in previous renewals of the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes, Payne has also been in the money with Criterion (2nd) and Praecido (3rd) in relatively recent seasons.