Horse Racing

A ‘Different Auguste Rodin’ Expected for Irish Champion

The career of Auguste Rodin  has been hot and cold, or perhaps boiling and freezing would be a more apt description. When he is good he is brilliant, but when he has been bad he has been brutal, although there have been valid excuses for his below-par efforts this season.

The dazzling Derby wins at Epsom and the Curragh have come in the middle of shocking showings in the Two Thousand Guineas (G1) and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1). On both occasions he has flopped, there was plenty of cut in the ground but excuses won’t wash on that front here.

The Sept. 9 Irish Champion Stakes (G1) is Auguste Rodin’s first try over a mile and a quarter. He has won twice over a mile, twice over a mile and a half and once over seven furlongs but some say this could be his optimum trip and, given conditions are very much in his favor and he has a great draw in stall 2, this might well be the day we find out just how good Auguste Rodin actually is.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien is the master of recovery. He got him back from the Guineas to win the Derby (G1) at Epsom and if he gets him back from the King George to win the Irish Champion Stakes it would be another astonishing achievement.

The master trainer is chasing a record-extending 12th Irish Champion Stakes triumph and a fifth in a row. Magical  won back-to-back runnings in 2019 and 2020 before St Mark’s Basilica  did the business in 2021 and Luxembourg  last year.

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O’Brien said of Auguste Rodin: “He was disappointing at Ascot, but we think a lot of things went wrong for him there. He flew over, he was trapped wide and a whole lot of other stuff too. There could be a lot of things that contributed to that disappointing run and, when Ryan (Moore) felt him coming off the bridle very early, he didn’t take a chance as that is not like him. He took him out of the race quickly.

“We’ve been very happy with him since and everyone around him is happy with him. He’s drawn towards the inside rather than outside at Ascot; he’s back in trip to a mile and a quarter compared to a mile and a half; he’s back on some nice ground compared to the ground at Ascot and he’s not flying either. There are an awful lot of things that have changed which makes us think we will see a different Auguste Rodin this time.”

At one stage earlier this week, King of Steel  was as short as 13-8 with Paddy Power and he looked a certainty to start favorite. Now it looks like his old rival Auguste Rodin might take that tag off him.

King of Steel was in front of him last time, though, when third to two older horses in the King George and Roger Varian said this has been the plan since. He has never actually tried a mile and a quarter before, but everything about him suggests the trip will suit and Varian is expecting a big run.

The trainer said: “He’s been trained for the race since he ran in the King George. He looks in very good condition and his work has been very pleasing. His form has been good all year. He’s never run a mile and a quarter but we’re all looking forward to seeing him back in trip. He traveled out there on Thursday and everything is fine with them. We couldn’t be happier with him.”

The Nashwa  camp are quietly confident coming into the Irish Champion and why shouldn’t they be?

Nashwa (Hollie Doyle) wins the Falmouth Stakes<br>
Newmarket 14.7.23 Pic: Edward Whitaker
Photo: Edward Whitaker/Racing Post

Nashwa takes the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse

The popular filly finished in front of Paddington  in the Juddmonte International Stakes (G1) and the pace she displayed over a mile when running away with the Falmouth suggests she has the tactical speed to deal with whatever is thrown at her here.

Fillies and mares have a terrific recent record too as Magical won back-to-back runnings in 2019 and 2020, while The Fugue  (2013) and Snow Fairy  (2012) were also successful.

Jockey Hollie Doyle was impressed by Nashwa in defeat last time and is looking forward to being reunited with the 4-year-old at Leopardstown.

She said: “It was an exceptional run last time and on the back of that you’d like to think she has a very good chance. It’s never easy taking on the colts, but she’s proved she can operate at the highest level and she doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone after her last run.”

Thady Gosden, joint-trainer of Nashwa, added: “She ran a great race last time out to be second and has come out of the race well. Obviously, it’s a competitive race, as the Irish Champion Stakes always is, but she goes there in good order for another crack at the colts.”

The winner of the Irish Champion will receive an automatic berth to the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1T) at Santa Anita Park since the race is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.


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