01 June 2023

Auguste Rodin heads 14 contenders for Derby glory

01 June 2023

Auguste Rodin, Military Order and Arrest form part of a 14-strong field declared for the Betfred Derby at Epsom on Saturday.

Much has been written about Auguste Rodin, and while he was well beaten in the 2000 Guineas, Aidan O’Brien – who also runs San Antonio and Adelaide River – retains maximum faith in the Deep Impact colt.

Military Order is bred to be a Derby winner being a full-brother to trainer Charlie Appleby’s 2021 winner Adayar and did little to dispel the impression that he will go close to maintaining family honour when taking the Lingfield Derby Trial.

Arrest will take all the headlines should he prevail, as he is the final Derby mount of Frankie Dettori.

Trained by John and Thady Gosden, the son of Frankel was a Group One runner-up as a juvenile and looked the part on his return in the Chester Vase.

His run in France behind the reopposing Dubai Mile was on heavy ground, while the heavens opened over the Roodee.

He will face very different conditions in the premier Classic, but connections are hopeful he will be at least as good, if not better, for it.

“He’s a very good horse and at Chester it was just about getting him some more experience on an undulating track,” said Barry Mahon, European racing manager for owners Juddmonte.

“He’d been to Sandown, Ffos Las and Saint-Cloud, all pretty straightforward tracks, so Chester was about introducing him to a tight, undulating track which he handled well.

“He then went to Epsom for a gallop and he handled that as well, quickening clear of his work companion, so he’s in good form. He did his last piece at the weekend and went nicely.

“There’s been a lot of talk about the ground, but he won his maiden at Sandown on good to firm, hopefully he can give a good account.

“He’s a fine, big, well-balanced horse so I think he’s better on good ground. Looking at him, that’s what I think.

“France wasn’t ideal, if it was three-quarters through the season rather than last race of the year he probably wouldn’t have run on that ground as it was so bad, but we knew he had the winter off so took a chance.

“He hit the front a furlong out and the ground probably just caught him out and the horse of Charlie Johnston’s got back up and did him on the line.”

Sir Michael Stoute and the Derby need little introduction and 12 months on from the victory of Desert Crown, the Freemason Lodge handler has supplemented Passenger, winner of the Wood Ditton and unlucky in running when dead-heating for third in the Dante.

The winner on the Knavesmire was Andrew Balding’s The Foxes, while immediately behind Military Order at Lingfield was the Ed Walker-trained Waipiro.

Donnacha O’Brien’s Alder was not declared, but there is further Irish representation through John Murphy’s Dante runner-up White Birch and Jessica Harrington’s Sprewell.

Artistic Star is an unbeaten Galileo colt representing Ralph Beckett, who sent out Westover to be third last year, and Roger Varian runs the giant King Of Steel with Dubai Mile’s trainer Charlie Johnston having a second string to his bow in the shape of Dear My Friend.

The latter was handed stall one at a draw ceremony on Thursday morning, with Adelaide River widest of all in 14.

Arrest was also drawn high in stall 13, while Auguste Rodin will be in 10, with Military Order on his inside in nine.

Giving his reaction to the draw, Dettori said: “I’m pleased with that. If I had been given the choice beforehand then I’d rather be high than low, but in this day and age when we don’t have a huge number of runners – not like back in the day – I don’t look into it that much.

“It’s all about having the best horse, simple as that – not the draw.”

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