From the outset, Auguste Rodin has been regarded as a special horse, but his road to King George at Ascot hasn’t exactly been an easy one.
From the last generation of superstar Japanese sire Deep Impact until his sad demise in 2019, Auguste Rodin was groomed by Coolmore to race at the highest level.
His powerhouse connections – trainer Aidan O’Brien and owners Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and John Magnier – will have had Group One dreams and classic targets in mind long before his beloved colt attended his first workout at Ballydoyle.
The VIP treatment came early too, with Auguste Rodin getting a prime spot in O’Brien’s yard in the same box that housed former horse heroes the Duke of Marmalade, Dylan Thomas, St. Nicholas Abbey, and Rip Van Winkle.
“He was considered very special even before he arrived,” O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing. “She was rated very highly as a colt from Coolmore and through all her tests and samples.
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“When we started working with him, he looked very special. Ryan rode him in February as a two-year-old and said: ‘This is a very special horse.’ He ticked all the boxes along the way.”
Things didn’t get off to an ideal start on the track. Defeat at the Curragh in June last year – beaten two and a half lengths by Crypto Force – may have disappointed the team, but he quickly returned to form, winning a Group Two prize at Leopardstown before Group One glory. As a teenager in Doncaster.
O’Brien said, “The first day he ran at the Curragh, he suffered when he ran a bit dirty and got caught in a bit of traffic.” “Again, Ryan came in and said he felt special.
“Every week he’s making progress. Physically, he’s getting stronger and he’s still growing.”
With victory at Town Moors assured, Auguste Rodin went off to the break with his position as the ‘hype horse’ of winter also guaranteed his go into the classic season.
Talk of a possible Triple Crown – 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and St Leger – was in full swing, but again Auguste Rodin’s campaign will begin with enthusiasm.
After being defeated by 22 lengths in the Newmarket Classic, many thought that there must have been something wrong with O’Brien’s runner, but once again he came back with wins in both the English and Irish Derby.
This left O’Brien looking to Ascot on Saturday and a first opportunity for Auguste Rodin to test his skills against the older generations.
O’Brien said, “We always had in mind that we would do this.” “Even if he had won the Guinness, he would have gone to Epsom [Derby] and then the curragh [Irish Derby],
“I think if he was going to the St Leger he probably wouldn’t go to the King George, but after the Derby his plan has always been to go to the Curragh and then Ascot.”
As far as targets beyond King George are concerned, O’Brien is keeping his options open.
He explained: “He will have a bit of rest and then he will either come back to Leopardstown or York for the Irish Champion Stakes or Jadmonte. Then we will look at a race after that.
“Obviously the Arch is there but he is a beautifully moving horse and you wouldn’t want to run him on soft ground or bad ground.”
O’Brien’s Fixed Stars
“He is in good shape and we are very happy with him. He is slowly starting his preparation and we are thinking about the Irish League. I am not sure we will get a chance before that.
“It’s great to have him back at full throttle. The boys did a lot with him and there were so many people involved, it’s unbelievable. So far, so good.”
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“He looks a very different horse when he is running. He is a typical Justify, with great pace and a good mind. He takes the trip really well and has a lot of natural is the starting speed.
“He looks so exciting, he could be anything.
“We all know what her father did in America and she is out of a great mare too.”
“He was upset [in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes] and american horse [Classic Causeway] Just ruined Ryan’s watch. Ryan was very happy with the horse.
“He was taken everywhere and that didn’t give us a chance. We think he deserves better than that.”
“He is a steadfast client and we will continue to give him plenty of work.
“He will be very happy to walk a mile and a half and we are thinking of going to King George.”
“He is an incredible horse and flourishing. He is very exciting and is improving Hand over Fist with every race. His rate of improvement is very unusual.
“We’re thinking of going to Sussex with him and going back a mile.”
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“He’s good, he was dropped out in the July Cup. Ryan was giving him chances until the two-furlong mark and he just started his run.
“The horses came on either side of him and he was trapped. He was lucky not to be brought down.”
“He has come out of the race very well so we are thinking of going to France for Maurice de Geest.”
“He ran very well [in the Grand Prix de Paris] And might have been beaten by a very good horse.
“He is a big horse and will be even better next year. We were surprised by what he did as a two-year-old and what he is doing now is great.”