03 June 2023

Auguste Rodin powers to Derby glory for Aidan O’Brien

03 June 2023

Auguste Rodin showed his class at Epsom with an exceptional display to run down King Of Steel and provide Aidan O’Brien with a record-extending ninth victory in the Betfred Derby.

Described by the Ballydoyle handler as a “collector’s item” prior to the premier Classic, the son of Deep Impact had a point to prove having been bitterly disappointing when favourite for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Despite that he was still popular with backers ahead of the blue riband and having been sent off at 9-2 in the hands of Ryan Moore he set about tackling the undulations of the Surrey Downs from stall 10.

Settled in mid-division as stablemates San Antonio and Adelaide River dictated terms up front, with Frankie Dettori in his final Derby aboard Arrest and Sir Michael Stoute’s Passenger also close by, Moore was content to let the action unfold as Kevin Stott aboard the 66-1 outsider King Of Steel made an audacious bid for home after rounding Tattenham Corner.

However, Roger Varian’s imposing runner soon had a target on his back and with Auguste Rodin eating into King Of Steel’s advantage with every stride, the highly-regarded colt was soon powering his way to pass that rival to give Moore his third Derby victory.

O’Brien said: “All the people in Coolmore have made this happen – this is a total homebred horse. It’s all credit to them to make this happen every day. He came with a massive reputation as a beautiful horse but he kept stepping up to all the markers all the way, which is very unusual.

“He’s totally unique – he’s out of one of the greatest Galileo mares (Rhododendron) by the greatest stallion ever in Japan. I can’t tell you, he’s totally unique.

“Ryan said it probably didn’t suit him, he would have preferred a lot stronger pace but he said he had to quicken twice, so obviously he’s so exciting for us.

“I feel so grateful and so delighted for all the lads, everyone. It’s a great pleasure for us to have anything to do with him really.”

We had the flight booked on the morning and then it all started going wrong then. Every step of the way, everything just fell against him

Reflecting on Auguste Rodin’s Newmarket reverse, O’Brien said: “It was one of those days. Kind of from a few days before, it all started to go wrong.

“As we all know, it’s a funny game, it has to go round and everyone has to get their day. Sometimes you control the things you can control, but the variables that you can’t control all start falling against you and you can’t stop that.

“From a couple of days before, we had the flight booked on the morning and then it all started going wrong then. Every step of the way, everything just fell against him.

“The lads had the plan for him that he would do the three races (Triple Crown) and we knew the first one would be the toughest one because to do that everything had to fall right for him and everything went totally wrong.

“He came out of the race great, that was the massive thing. Every day, riding him work, he was just getting better and more and more confident.”

O’Brien continued: “Ryan was so cool, he knew the pressure was on and gave him a peach of a ride.

“In February, Ryan rode him in work and said he was very special, as a two-year-old, so you can imagine what he was like then. His movement was so spectacular and sometimes horses lose that but he never changed the whole way. He’s the most unbelievable economical way of going, his action, temperament and breathing but his movement is just incredible.”

Plans for Auguste Rodin will have to be discussed, but the Irish Derby or King George at Ascot could be on the radar.

O’Brien said: “I’m not sure, but obviously these type of horses come here and if they’re good enough we often have a look at the Irish Derby, but the lads make all those decisions. We’ll see how he is, tell the lads and they’ll talk about it, talk to Ryan and then we’ll make a decision.

“I don’t think he had too tough a race as it wasn’t a strong early pace. All those options are open to him.”

He’s the only man that could do it. I’ve seen him get horses back. Aidan can just do things.

Moore said: “We had a smooth run. We landed in a smooth spot, I had William (Buick, on Military Order) and Frankie (Dettori, on Arrest) ahead of me and was always confident I had them covered.

“We didn’t go that quick, it turned in to a bit of a dash, but I was getting a nice smooth run. He was a bit babyish, I always thought I had the race won, but I just had to get into him in the last furlong there and he responded very gamely. He’s done that quite cosily, I think.”

On the training performance of O’Brien to get Auguste Rodin back to his best, he said: “He’s the only man that could do it. I’ve seen him get horses back. There’s been horses that have run bad in the Guineas and have come back. Roderic O’Connor springs to mind and a few others, even Qualify ran bad in a Guineas and came and won an Oaks. Aidan can just do things.

“This horse has a great pedigree, he’s always shown he’s a good horse. As Aidan says, everyone does such a good job at home and everything went smooth today.”

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