Deep Impact's Auguste Rodin Wins The Irish Champion

Auguste Rodin I Racingfotos.com


Proving once again that he belongs at the top of the tree, Auguste Rodin (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}–Rhododendron {Ire}, by Galileo {Ire}) laid it all out on Saturday to prevail in a gruelling edition of Leopardstown's G1 Royal Bahrain Irish Champion S. As he had in the Derby, when churning out historical sectionals at the business end, the 11-4 favourite was able to handle a demanding test carved out by last year's hero Luxembourg (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) and pour it on late as the closers inevitably came into the picture.

Subduing Luxembourg a furlong from home, the third TDN Rising Star winner on the card, who is possibly the most ground-dependant elite performer that Aidan O'Brien has trained, was reportedly idling late as he led home a one-two for the yard by half a length in this “Win and You're In” qualifier for the GI Breeders' Cup Turf. Luxembourg, who was back to his determined best, grimly hung on to the runner's-up spot by a short head from the strong-finishing Nashwa (GB) (Frankel {GB}), as King Of Steel (Wootton Bassett {GB}) finished on their heels a further half a length behind in fourth.

“We knew that Luxembourg was in a great place and Auguste Rodin is a magical horse really–a great horse, bottom line,” O'Brien said. “The little thing is he wants to get there late, as he parks in front and we always knew that. He's a beautiful mover and an easy cruiser and Ryan was delighted that he had the horse in front who was going to get him there. He has an unbelievable capacity to go a very high tempo from very early and quicken off it, but when he gets there he waits.”

Flying in the face of convention has been Auguste Rodin's hallmark from a relatively early point. First, there was the G1 Futurity Trophy success after a painful wait from connections to see whether he would be allowed to take part after Doncaster was hit by heavy rain. If he managed to navigate soft there, he was completely unable to deal with it underfoot in Newmarket's 2000 Guineas and at Ascot where he was gone long before the home turn. Even the Irish Derby was visually unexciting and so had he not delivered a masterclass at Epsom in between, he probably wouldn't have been here at all.

Whereas in the King George he couldn't lay up from the outset, this time Auguste Rodin looked for a brief spell as if he might land in front but Seamie Heffernan was intent on taking up the mantle with Point Lonsdale (Ire) (Australia {GB}) acting as wing-man. While the Irish Derby happened in what O'Brien classes as “second gear the whole way”, this was as truly-run as any Group 1 race of recent times with Luxembourg back on-song and crunching away at the numbers in front.

Any weakness in the eventual winner would have been exposed by the time they passed the two pole, but instead of curling up Auguste Rodin continued to tick off relentless fast fractions. Understandably, Luxembourg buckled slightly though not enough to suggest his performance was anything other than a top-class one and probably a career-best but his year-younger stablemate occupies marginally higher territory.

“He is so slick, he's all action,” O'Brien added. “Soft ground has to hinder him and we were lucky Ryan was on him at Ascot so that no physical damage was done. “He is so important to the breed and you know how quickly they can be destroyed, so all credit to the lads who knew Ascot was not his run at all. I have to thank Michael [Tabor] for having the confidence in everybody to relax and calm down and come back.”

“A couple of times this year it all went totally wrong,” he continued. “He's very tough, very hardy, but a little bit peculiar. Annemarie was watching him in the stable. If things happen around his environment he stays awake all night. He doesn't sleep. He's probably just a very sensitive horse. He takes in everything.”

Moore was in no doubt cantering to post that his mount was back in the groove. “I knew he was in a real good place and he floated around there–it never really felt in any doubt and he was just waiting a bit in the last 100 yards,” Moore said. “It is very satisfying for him to come back and prove how good he is again. Aidan's done a fantastic job and I always felt this was his ideal trip–his dam didn't stay a mile and a half and won a Lockinge. It was an evenly-run race and they all had their chance.”

O'Brien is thinking of swerving ParisLongchamp and the habitual slog through the mud next month. “He probably wouldn't go to the Arc, as the ground is usually soft and the lads love the Breeders' Cup,” he said. “He'd love Santa Anita, as you know you're going to get fast ground so we'll see how he is after a week or 10 days. That's a strong possibility–I'd say the Turf rather than the Classic, and whatever after that. He went by boat to Epsom and that was one of the common denominators that wasn't stacking up, the flying. Maybe if he flies again he needs a little bit of time to get over it.”


Pedigree Notes

Auguste Rodin's record bodes extremely well for his five-times Group 1-winning champion dam Rhododendron, who also had her dips as well as highs but was capable of magic when at her peak. He is her first foal, with her second a colt by Dubawi (Ire) born this year. The second dam is Halfway To Heaven (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}), whose three top-level triumphs included an Irish 1000 Guineas and who also produced Galileo's seven-times Group 1 winner Magical (Ire).

Halfway To Heaven is out of the multiple group-winning sprinter Cassandra Go (Ire) (Indian Ridge {Ire}), who is also responsible for the G3 Abernant S. and G3 Sandown Sprint S. scorer Tickled Pink (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) and the G3 Summer S. winner Theann (GB) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire). Tickled Pink produced the stable's GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Victoria Road (Ire) (Saxon Warrior {Jpn}), who was placed later on this card, while Theann has Galileo's GI First Lady S. and GI Rodeo S. heroine Photo Call (Ire) and the G2 Richmond S.-winning first-season sire Land Force (Ire) under her auspices.


Saturday, Leopardstown, Ireland
ROYAL BAHRAIN IRISH CHAMPION S.-G1, €1,250,000, Leopardstown, 9-9, 3yo/up, 10fT, 2:02.68, gd.
1–AUGUSTE RODIN (IRE), 129, c, 3, by Deep Impact (Jpn)
1st Dam: Rhododendron (Ire) (MG1SW-Eng, G1SW-Fr, GSW & G1SP-Ire, GISP-US, $1,786,763), by Galileo (Ire)
2nd Dam: Halfway To Heaven (Ire), by Pivotal (GB)
3rd Dam: Cassandra Go (Ire), by Indian Ridge (Ire)
'TDN Rising Star'. O-M Tabor, D Smith, Mrs J Magnier & Westerberg; B-Coolmore (IRE); T-Aidan O'Brien; J-Ryan Moore. €725,000. Lifetime Record: MG1SW-Eng, 9-6-1-0, $2,891,914. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree, or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Luxembourg (Ire), 135, c, 4, Camelot (GB)–Attire (Ire), by Danehill Dancer (Ire). (150,000gns Ylg '20 TATOCT). O-Westerberg, Mrs J Magnier, M Tabor & D Smith; B-B V Sangster (IRE); T-Aidan O'Brien. €250,000.
3–Nashwa (GB), 132, f, 4, Frankel (GB)–Princess Loulou (Ire), by Pivotal (GB). 'TDN Rising Star'. O-Imad Al Sagar; B-Blue Diamond Stud Farm (UK) Ltd (GB); T-John & Thady Gosden. €125,000.
Margins: HF, SHD, HF. Odds: 2.75, 4.00, 4.50.
Also Ran: King Of Steel, Alflaila (GB), Point Lonsdale (Ire), Onesto (Ire), Sprewell (Ire). Scratched: Al Riffa (Fr).

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