Auguste Rodin Wins 244th Epsom Derby

June 3, 2023

By Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Auguste Rodin (9/2) delivered a ninth Betfred Derby at Epsom, England, for Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien on Saturday.

The three-year-old colt, called after the Frenchman generally considered the founder of modern sculpture, was ridden by English jockey Ryan Moore, for whom it was a third Epsom Derby success; he previously won aboard Workforce in 2010 and Ruler Of The World in 2013.

Spoken of at the start of the season by his trainer as a potential Triple Crown horse – the British Triple Crown consists of the Qipco 2000 Guineas over a mile at Newmarket, the Betfred Derby over a mile and a half at Epsom, and the Cazoo St Leger at Doncaster over a mile and three-quarters – Auguste Rodin disappointed hugely in the opening leg, finishing 12th of 14 colts at Newmarket, having being hindered early in the one-mile contest.

Despite apprehension in certain quarters ahead of Saturday’s race, Aidan O’Brien never doubted the ability of the son of Deep Impact, and his confidence in the colt’s potential was deservedly rewarded today as Auguste Rodin gave the Coolmore partners a tenth Derby win.

The delighted winning handler reacted to his record-extending ninth victory in the race by saying:

“It’s a credit to everyone involved. He’s a total homebred horse. He came with a massive reputation as a beautiful horse. He kept stepping up to all the markers all the way which is very unusual. He’s totally unique, he’s so exciting for us. 

“He’s out of one of the greatest Galileo mares by the greatest stallion ever in Japan – he’s totally unique. He’s so exciting for us. He has the most unbelievable economical way of going (moving), his movement is just incredible,” the County Wexford-born conditioner added.

When interviewed by the host broadcaster, ITV, Ryan Moore reacted to his second Betfred Derby win in the colours of the Coolmore partners by disclosing:

“We’ve always had a lot of belief in him. He got the trip very well and he was very comfortable throughout the race. It probably wasn’t the strongest run Derby and it didn’t ride like it. I felt like he was doing it easy. I’d say he would be adaptable and he obviously gets the trip fine. He always felt like he was going beautiful and I think this quicker ground is a big help to him.”

The Irish breeding operation Coolmore previously won the premier classic with Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Pour Moi (2011), Camelot (2012), Ruler Of The World (2013), Australia (2014), Wings Of Eagles (2017), Anthony Van Dyck (2019), and Serpentine in 2020.

Bred in the purple by Coolmore out of a Galileo mare, Rhododendron, Auguste Rodin was a half length winner at the wire from outsider King Of Steel (66/1), ridden by Kevin Stott. The runner-up, trained by Roger Varian, is by a Coolmore-owned stallion, Wootton Bassett. 

For Roger Varian it was heartache again in the Epsom Derby as he explained post-race:

“I knew he was good. I’m gutted, but that’s horse racing. Hopefully, he’ll come out of the race okay and he’s a very good horse. Credit to the winner though, who is a very good horse.

“I never thought I had it, as I’d been in the same position in 2014 with Kingston Hill, who was clear of the field but you could just see Australia coming to us. Again, I could just see Auguste Rodin coming to us. I hoped when he got to us we would find a bit more, but he ran huge – he’s a very good horse.”

Third home was the Colin Keane-ridden White Birch (12/1). The son of Ulysses, handled in County Cork, Ireland, by John Murphy was four and three-quarter lengths behind the runner-up crossing the finish line.

Murphy’s son and assistant trainer George was thrilled with their stable star’s effort, stating:

“We’re delighted with him and he stayed on really well. He just hesitated again at the gates and put himself into a difficult position but it was a great run. I’d say it will be the Irish Derby next, Colin gave him a great ride considering how it played out early on and he galloped all the way to the line, so all going well it’ll probably be the Irish Derby next.”

The fourth finisher in the 14- runner Group 1 was Spreewell (14/1), conditioned in County Kildare, Ireland, by Jessica Harrington and ridden by her stable jockey Shane Foley. 

Kate Harrington, daughter and assistant trainer to her mother Jessica, was ecstatic with their colt’s finishing position, as she explained:

“I’m absolutely delighted. He didn’t get the clearest of runs down the hill and into the straight, Shane (Foley) felt that if he got him out and got him rolling a bit closer he thinks he would have been third, but he’s run a cracker. It was his first time contesting that ground, so he’s only going to keep on improving. Roll on the Irish Derby.”

Contributing Authors

Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Breandán Ó hUallacháin writes about Irish, British, French and Australian horseracing, both National Hunt and Flat. He has an interest in the history of racing...

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