Derby Double For Auguste Rodin In Dramatic Irish Derby

Auguste Rodin (left)


The betting suggested that Sunday's G1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh was a simple equation, but in the event there was a deal of disappointment and drama en route to TDN Rising Star Auguste Rodin (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}–Rhododendron {Ire}, by Galileo {Ire}) completing the Derby double that had always seemed an inevitability. As the other key Derby runners White Birch (GB) (Ulysses {Ire}) and Sprewell (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}) failed to raise a fist, Ryan Moore first had to manoeuvre the unseating of Wayne Lordan on the stricken San Antonio (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) on the home turn and then work to subdue the yard's 33-1 shot Adelaide River (Ire) (Australia {GB}).

In a finish much more tense than promised, the 4-11 favourite ultimately pulled out enough to beat Adelaide River by 1 1/2 lengths, while the 80-1 outsider Covent Garden (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) completed a remarkable eighth Irish Derby one-two-three for Aidan O'Brien 2 1/4 lengths away. This was a 15th success in the race for Aidan O'Brien and a landmark 100th in Classics for the master of Ballydoyle, but for Moore it was a welcome first Irish Derby.

“I've had a lot of disappointment in this race, but Aidan had said to me that Mick Kinane didn't win until Galileo so maybe I just needed a good one to win it,” the rider said after a tactically challenging steering job. “It wasn't a straightforward race. There's a big headwind down the back and a gale blowing behind you in the straight, they went very steady for the first half of the race and my horse was always in a gear too low. I'd have liked something to go on a stride quicker, I wanted to go around Wayne and then had to switch back in and the horse in front was getting a very easy time. I had to go to him early and this is a horse who when he gets to the front tends to wait a bit.”

This renewal came down to being on or near the front end, which can be no surprise to anybody who has witnessed the races that had preceded it during the three-day Irish Derby festival. It was therefore a surprise that White Birch's jockey Dylan Browne McMonagle opted to negate the rare advantage of his mount breaking on terms by restraining him towards the back and handing the favourite a four-to-five length advantage.

Even before San Antonio's unfortunate breaking down four out, it was clear that White Birch was completely misfiring and the fact that he and Sprewell were caught up in the resulting melee had little to no impact on the result. Two out, Auguste Rodin seemed to comfortably have the measure of the pace-setting Adelaide River but all the evidence of the past few days is that Aidan O'Brien's 3-year-old crop are finally getting to their peak. Some of those that were quiet in the spring are leaping forward now and Seamie Heffernan was on one who had made significant strides over the past month.

A few strides after the two pole, the body language of Moore and Heffernan offered marked contrast and as they went to the furlong marker it seemed possible that Adelaide River could rally for the upset. While Auguste Rodin hanging down towards the rail may not have affected the result, the overhead film showed clearly that the eventual runner-up was compromised by the intimidation more than once and the winning margin may not be the whole story. All that said, with the non-Ballydoyle contingent so far away from what was required here was a case of yet another Irish Derby resembling no more than a taxing work morning at Rosegreen.

The very real scare that Adelaide River posed in the closing stages outlines that for most of this stable's leading lights, the danger often lies within. Just as we learnt as the Derby also-ran Sovereign (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) came back to demolish the Blue Riband hero Anthony Van Dyck (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) four years ago, the yard's battalion members gathered in Kildare can never be discounted. As well as Sovereign, O'Brien's other Irish Derby heroes who took major steps forward from Epsom include Soldier Of Fortune (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), Frozen Fire (Ger) (Montjeu {Ire}) and Capri (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}). Adelaide River, who had top juvenile form having placed three times in pattern races including the G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud, was just following past precedent.

Aidan O'Brien, who had been at pains to stress on Irish Champions Day last year that Auguste Rodin has the tendency of his high-class dam Rhododendron to pull up in front, has always pointed to the Irish Derby as a true and fair test with no excuses. Ryan Moore was offering more complex feedback after this year's winner had crossed the line with ears flicking every which way to the collective exhale of relief from all the cliff-jumping punters.

“When there is a tailwind on the inner track it's not as straightforward as people think,” he said. “You can get different results with a proper wind like today and while the form will look questionable it's just that circumstances conspired against him. He didn't have the opportunity to give me the feel he had at Epsom because the circumstances were different, but he still won–he's done what he had to today and wasn't blowing and didn't turn a hair, so there is plenty more to come. He gets a mile and a half well, but I think he would be fine at ten as it always felt like they were going too slow for me which indicates he'll be fine coming back in trip.”

Of the trainer's milestone moment, Moore offered his usual measured insight. “Aidan will tell you that it's everyone else and it is, in that it is such a big team effort, but there's a reason you get these results,” he added. “I have a good idea what makes him different. He's seriously driven and wants the best the whole time. The amount of work he does is quite incredible. People talk about 'genius' and 'attention to detail' and there is that, but there's also another layer and I'm privileged to see it. Probably a lot of people wouldn't understand it.”

O'Brien gave his own slant on the outcome, which was the 19th time the Derby-Irish Derby double had been achieved. “The Curragh is very fair and very straight forward and one of the best facilities in the world, but it didn't go right in any part of the way today with the wind blowing them sideways going down the back and the lads in front going a gear too slow,” he said. “We wanted a strong, even pace but Ryan felt he was just in two gears too low. He said he was on auto-pilot the whole way up the straight and never clicked in at all and when he got to the front, he was all starry-eyed.”

“We knew that the second horse and Wayne's horse would handle this course much better than Epsom and it wasn't a surprise that Adelaide River ran much better,” he added. “It looked workmanlike and that's the fact of it, but Ryan was very adamant that there is so much more in there and we look forward to him the next day. Where that will be depends on the lads and we'll see in a few days.”

Pedigree Notes

Auguste Rodin's pedigree has been well dissected by now, with his dam Rhododendron winning the G1 Lockinge S. at a mile and the G1 Prix de l'Opera at 10 furlongs and finishing second in the Oaks. She is out of Halfway To Heaven (Ire) (Pivotal {GB}), another Curragh Classic heroine having mastered the Irish 1000 Guineas before adding the G1 Nassau S. and G1 Sun Chariot S. to her tally. Rhododendron's full-sister Magical (Ire) was successful seven times at the highest level, including in two renewals of this track's Tattersalls Gold Cup and a Pretty Polly S.

The third dam is the multiple group-winning sprinter Cassandra Go (Ire) (Indian Ridge {Ire}), also responsible for the G3 Abernant S. and G3 Sprint S. scorer Tickled Pink (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) who in turn produced last year's GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Victoria Road (Ire) (Saxon Warrior {Jpn}), and the G3 Summer S. winner Theann (GB) (Rock Of Gibraltar {Ire) who produced 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). Rhododendron's colt foal is by Dubawi (Ire).

Sunday, Curragh, Ireland
DUBAI DUTY FREE IRISH DERBY-G1, €1,250,000, Curragh, 7-2, 3yo, c/f, 12fT, 2:33.24, gd.
1–AUGUSTE RODIN (IRE), 128, c, 3, by Deep Impact (Jpn)
1st Dam: Rhododendron (Ire) (G1SW-Fr, MG1SW-Eng, 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)
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, 7-5-1-0, $2,129,776. Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree, or the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Adelaide River (Ire), 128, c, 3, Australia (GB)–Could It Be Love, by War Front. O-Mrs J Magnier/M Tabor/D Smith/Westerberg; B-Coolmore (IRE); T-Aidan O'Brien. €250,000.
3–Covent Garden (Ire), 128, c, 3, Galileo (Ire)–Inca Princess (Ire), by Holy Roman Emperor (Ire).
1ST GROUP BLACK TYPE, 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. O-Westerberg,Mrs J Magnier,M Tabor,D Smith; B-Coolmore (IRE); T-Aidan O'Brien. €125,000.
Margins: 1HF, 2 1/4, 5HF. Odds: 0.36, 33.00, 80.00.
Also Ran: Peking Opera (Ire), Up And Under (Fr), Sprewell (Ire), Proud And Regal (Ire), White Birch (GB). Also Ran (DNF): San Antonio (Ire).

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