Derby Festival 2023: Auguste Rodin hands O’Brien NINTH Derby success

Derby Festival 2023: Auguste Rodin handed a record-extending ninth Betfred Derby success to trainer Aidan O’Brien in the premier British Classic on 3rd June.

It was a third success for jockey Ryan Moore and a record-extending 10th for a Coolmore syndicate as owners.

A major disappointment in the opening Classic of the season, the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month, the son of Deep Impact turned that form around today. Still with plenty to do entering the final furlong, he overhauled King Of Steel close home to win by half a length.

  • COOLMORE’S RECORD 10 DERBY WINNERS: Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Pour Moi (2011), Camelot (2012), Ruler Of The World (2013), Australia (2014), Wings Of Eagles (2017), Anthony Van Dyck (2019), Serpentine (2020) and Auguste Rodin (2023).
  • AIDAN O’BRIEN RECORD 9 DERBY WINNERS: Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012), Ruler Of The World (2013), Australia (2014), Wings Of Eagles (2017), Anthony Van Dyck (2019), Serpentine (2020) and Auguste Rodin (2023).
  • RYAN MOORE’S 3 DERBY WINNERS:  Workforce (2010), Ruler Of The World (2013) and Auguste Rodin (2023).

Aidan O’Brien, trainer of Auguste Rodin (9/2), told ITV Racing: “It’s great credit to everybody. Firstly for John (Magnier) to send a great mare to Japan and everyone is involved, there’s so many people who make this happen. He’s a total homebred horse and it’s all credit to them to make this thing happen every day.

“He came with a massive reputation as a beautiful horse but he kept stepping up to all the markers the whole way, which is very unusual. He’s totally unique, he’s out of one of the greatest Galileo mares and by the greatest stallion ever in Japan, he’s totally unique.

“Ryan said it probably didn’t suit him and he’d prefer a lot stronger pace but he said he had to quicken twice. He’s so exciting for us and I feel so grateful. I’m so delighted for his owners, it’s a great pleasure for us to have anything to do with him.

“It was one of those days (at Newmarket) and a few days before it all started to go wrong. We all know it’s a funny game and it all goes round and everyone gets their day, but you control the things you can control. You can’t stop the things you can’t control, from having him booked to fly a couple of days before it all started to go wrong really and everything just fell against him.

“The lads had the plan he’d do the three (Classic) races and we knew the first one would be the toughest as everything would have to fall right for him. Everything just went wrong but he came out the race great, every day we were riding him up he was getting better and more confident and Ryan gave him an incredible ride. He was so cool, he knew the pressure was on so he gave him such a peach of a ride.

“I suppose in February when Ryan rode him in work, he said he was something very special as a two year old. You could imagine what he was like then, his movement was so spectacular and sometimes the horses lose that movement, but he’s never changed the whole way. His movement is just incredible.

“I’m not sure where we’ll go but if we have a horse who we think is good enough we’ll have a look at the Irish Derby. The lads make all those decisions, we’ll see how he is and we’ll tell the lads. They’ll talk between themselves, then they’ll talk to Ryan and they’ll make a decision. I don’t think he had too tough a race as it wasn’t too strong a race and Ryan said he had to quicken twice on him because he got there going too easy and then he had to go again.

“All those options are open to him, the good thing about it is the pace was slow and he was still able to come from where he was. That was Ryan, he just let him find his own rhythm and let him do as he wanted.

“He always felt like he was the most special horse we had at Ballydoyle and that’s what we always felt.”

The trainer continued: “From the very start, when John [Magnier] and Sue and everyone decided to send Rhodedendron to Japan – a maiden mare, to send all the way to Japan to be covered by Deep Impact – it was an unbelievable call. And then when she was scanned in-foal with a colt, and then all the hype of expectations were there straightaway from before he was born. He was measured, measured, measured all the way, and he was ticking the top of the measurements all the way.

“It’s difficult for a person or a horse to handle all that, and he did, all the way through before he came to Ballydoyle. And then he came to Ballydoyle and I remember Ryan [Moore] sitting on him in the February as a two-year-old, and saying, ‘This is very special’. And then the bar is even higher.

“He did a lovely run first time and won his next three, and then he was put away and the plan was for the Guineas. Two days before the Guineas – we always felt the Guineas was going to be his toughest assignment, but when that happens everything has to fall right for you, the things that you can’t control have to fall in place for you. Two days before the Guineas they started falling the other way, where his flight was cancelled and he had to go over the day before and stay instead of in the morning, and then the ground and all the circumstances just fell against him that we couldn’t control, so really we just felt it was a non-event. Then I suppose when we said that it hyped even more pressure on the horse and everyone around him that was looking after him.

“Obviously we had to keep the faith, but it was down to the acid test here today, and really coming here today – so many of these things, they don’t happen. We felt he was the most special horse we’ve ever had because he was out of one of the best Galileo mares by the best Japanese stallion, and he has the movement – he doesn’t look like a big horse, but when you stand into him he is a big horse, so that’s usually a sign of something different.

“And then in all fairness to Ryan, we gave him no instructions. I spoke to Ryan in the car on the way in and he said, ‘Aidan, I’m going to ride him on feel’, and that’s what he did. Maybe we would have preferred a stronger pace for him; the pace was slow and Ryan was back a good bit, so he had to cope with a lot. Usually when you’re taking your time and the pace is strong the pace comes back to you and he had to go chase the pace, and Ryan said that he felt when he chased it he felt like he was getting there too early and he had to go again.

“It’s incredible, really, it’s incredible, but for me it all starts with John – when he sent the horse to Japan, and he went through all his brackets all the way, all his measurements and all the reports.

“It’s such a big team – John and Sue and all the family, Michael and Doreen and their family, Derrick and Gaye and all the family, George and Emily, they are all so knowledgeable I can’t tell you. There’s John and the team of vets; Andrew’s in charge; Rachel rides him out, Wayne rides him in his work, Cillian makes the pace for his work, Martin takes the lead horse with Rachel every day, then there’s John on the farm, John in the office, Chris, Jenny – there’s so many people, and I’m forgetting to say a lot of people. All the people round, all the people at Coolmore who brought him all the way along the steps, the people who do his stable in the morning: it’s such a team, I can’t explain to you about it.

“I did [feel the pressure], and they came all with me, and obviously usually these days they only go to one way, and usually the more you want it to happen, it goes the other way. We knew there were an awful lot of things that could fall against him today and a lot of things could have happened, a lot of things out of our control. I think for everyone here in Epsom who controlled all the actual physical things that could happen, I think there were so many variables that people were trying to control that could get out of control… For us it was the same for us all, so we had to deal with it, but for everyone here, there was so much stuff going on underneath, and we only know the half of what happened this morning before the racing started, just to try and make it happen. There was the ground and the way it changed – so many things. But we are just so grateful that it happened. But John and Derrick and Michael, they supply all the money to have the horses and keep everyone in jobs, and the spin-off is unbelievable. I’m just so delighted.

“I think this is the most important horse [for Coolmore] ever, because he’s out of Rhodedendron, who is one of the best, if not the best, Galileo mares, and he’s by probably the best Japanese stallion ever, and we know what is after happening with the Japanese breeding, and we know about our own breeding, and he’s after connecting the two of them together. This horse has everything – he has temperament, he has movement, he is everything, he has a personality – I think he’s the most important horse we’ve ever had because he’s bringing the two continents together, and it’s not fake ability, it’s pure ability, so I think it is so exciting.

“Myself and Ryan were looking at Sunday Silence and he’s the very same [as Auguste Rodin] and he’s like his Dad, he likes taking his time and he likes to come at horses because he’s got a lot of speed, but he will be better when the pace is faster. It’s hard to believe, when you look at him and you look at Sunday Silence – he’s the very same. We were looking at it the other night and it was hard to believe that we weren’t looking at August Rodin – the movement, everything, the way he carries himself, and the quickening; incredible, really. And Rhodedendron – how special was she? We brought her here to the Oaks and there was us thinking she couldn’t get beat, and Enable beat her, so… A lot of rain came that day and could you believe she would run into Enable? So it is incredible really.

“Obviously he will have the Curragh option next, but the lads make those decisions. We tell them in 7-10 days how they are, and they talk between themselves, and then they decide what they want to do. But he came out of Newmarket very well and if he comes out of today as well, it should be that a plan is set, but we’ll give him a few days. The Curragh would be an obvious choice for him, but we will see how the horse is and what the lads want to do.

“I’d say he’d have international options, yes – this horse is going to love travelling and he’s a pure mile and a quarter, mile and a half horse. The Guineas would have been fine if everything had gone right for him but – and it might be a blessing in disguise, because if he did, we’d be waiting on the Leger and he’s free of all that now, free of all the shackles, so the lads can do whatever they want for him.

“For me and Ann-Marie and the children, it’s incredible and they’ve never known anything else since we started training than to have these type of horses that we can compete in these races. Everyone knows how important it is, every day, and today – it’s a great privilege for us.”

“Ryan said it didn’t suit him, that he would have preferred a much stronger pace and he said he’d had to quicken twice. It’s so exciting for us.

“The Guineas was one of those days – 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 can control the things you can control, but when the variables you can’t control all go against you, you can’t stop that, and that was the way it was from a couple of days  before. We had booked a flight over in the morning and every step it fell against him. The lads had to plan for him that he would do the three races – the Triple Crown – and we knew that the first one would be the toughest for him and that everything would have to go right for him, and everything went totally wrong. But he came out of the race great, so that was the massive thing. Every day he was just getting better and more confident.

“Ryan gave him an incredible ride; he knew that the pressure was on and he gave him a peach of a ride.

“Ryan said in February of his two-year-old year that he was someething special, so you can imagine what he was like then – his movement was so spectacular. Sometimes horses lose that movement, but he’s never changed the whole way. He has the most incredible, economic way of going; his action, his temperament, his breeding, but his movement is incredible. He’s different gravy.

“I don’t think he had too tough a race today because it wasn’t a strong early pace, and Ryan said he has to quicken twice on him because he got there too easy and then had to go again. The good thing about it is that the pace was slow, and he was still able to come from where he was, but that was Ryan – he had a total free hand going out, and just let him find his own rhythm and did it as he wanted.

“We’ve always said he is the most special horse we’ve had in Ballydoyle, that’s what we always felt.”

Ryan Moore, winning jockey, told ITV Racing: “We had a smooth run and landed in a nice spot. I kind of had William (Buick, on Military Order) and Frankie (Dettori, on Arrest) ahead of me but I was always confident I had them covered.

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

“(Aidan O’Brien) is the only man that could do it. I’ve seen him get horses back after they’ve run badly in the Guineas and then win big races. This horse has a great pedigree and he’s always shown he’s a good horse. As Aidan always says, everyone does such a great job at home. Everything went smooth today.

“We’ve always had a lot of belief in him. I don’t know if the Leger will be the plan but he’s a class horse and hopefully we get a triple crown horse one day.”

The jockey went on to say: “Straight away he got into a very good rhythm. He felt in a very good place going to the start. He was very smooth and I always felt in control of the race. He got there going easy. He was still a bit immature when he got to the front but when I asked him inside the last furlong I was very happy with him. People were saying he won on bad ground last year and the ground in the Guineas wasn’t in his favour. He has got a beautiful action and he is a lovely moving horse. I always thought he wanted nice ground. Aidan always had a lot of belief in the horse.

“Even last week we were looking at Preakness that Sunday Silence won who was his grand sire. The markings are exactly the same and we think he has got huge potential. I thought I had the race won as soon as I crossed the road really. I was bit worried hitting the front as early as I was going to. The second horse kicked and my horse just shut down a little bit when I asked him and he had to go win his race but he found plenty.

“He got the trip very well and he was very comfortable throughout the race. It probably wasn’t the strongest run Derby and it didn’t ride like it. I felt like he was doing it easy. I’d say he would be adaptable be he obviously gets the trip fine. He always felt like he was going beautiful and I think this quicker ground is a big help to him. Workforce won half the track, Ruler Of The World it was a tight old ding-dong. It was a bit similar to Workforce in the way he went through the race as he was always comfortable.”

Photo by Rachel Groom.

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