Auguste Rodin back to winning ways in the Irish Champion Stakes (Breandán Ó hUallacháin)
By Breandán Ó hUallacháin
Auguste Rodin gave trainer Aidan O’Brien and owners Coolmore a 13th victory in the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday.
The winner gains an automatic berth into the Grade 1 $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park, California, on November 3rd and 4th.
The son of Japanese sire Deep Impact beat his stable companion, and last year’s winner, Luxembourg, with Nashwa next home in third.
In the eight-runner €1,250,000 Group 1, the three Ballydoyle runners, all conditioned by O’Brien, lead the contest from leaving the stalls.
Last season’s victor, Luxembourg, a son of Camelot, set the pace with jockey Séamie Heffernan riding in the Westerberg colours. He was closely followed by Point Lonsdale, a bay son of Australia, with Dylan Browne McMonagle in the saddle.
Auguste Rodin, winner of two Derbys already this season, at Epsom and The Curragh respectively, was in close proximity in the hands of Ryan Moore.
On the turn for home, the ‘Ballydoyle bridgade’ increased the pace and Auguste Rodin took the lead at the two-furlong pole. With his stable companion Luxembourg on the rail and the bay Frankel filly Nashwa coming on his outside, Auguste Rodin battled gamely to hold off all challengers and claim another Group 1.
Auguste Rodin, who O’Brien mentioned at the beginning of the season as a possible candidate for English racing’s Triple Crown – the 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger – has been frustrating this year.
He disappointed hugely in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket in May before impressively claiming the Epsom Derby the following month. He completed the Derby double, when producing a workmanlike performance in taking the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh. He has been consistent in how inconsitent he has run this year, as in his next race, the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, England, he finished last of 10 runners behind Hukum.
Despite being heaving criticised in some quarters after two disappointing runs this year, winning handler Aidan O’Brien strongly defended Auguste Rodin after his Group 1 victory this afternoon.
“He’s a great horse, bottom line,” declared O’Brien. “We knew Ascot just all went wrong. He was always a brilliant horse, always. All the way along from first day he worked. He travels like a dream. He’s an awful lot of natural speed. He’s a little bit lazy when he gets there.
“A couple of times this year it all went totally wrong. All the ducks went against him. Usually you want them all to go with you but they all went against him. Ryan (Moore, jockey), before it went completely wrong in Ascot, he took him out of the race so he did no mental or physical damage to him. That’s why he came out of the race so well.”
Auguste Rodin has now run 9 races and has achieved 6 wins and 1 place. Four of his 6 wins have been at Group 1 level: Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes, Epsom Derby, Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes. The son of Deep Impact has won over $2.9 million to date.