Aidan O’Brien goes in search of his 100th European Classic as Auguste Rodin attempts to become the first horse since Harzand in 2016 to win at Epsom and follow up in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.
The Deep Impact colt represents one of the Ballydoyle trainer’s greatest achievements as he brought him back from finishing almost last in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket to win the Derby in style at Epsom.
With runner-up King Of Steel winning the King Edward VII Stakes and Hong Kong-bound Derby sixth Waipiro taking the Hampton Court at Royal Ascot, Auguste Rodin’s form looks rock solid and he is understandably long odds-on to follow up.
“The Derby seems to be working out well, which is nice,” said O’Brien.
“We’re very happy with our horse, everything has gone well since Epsom and the Derby so we are looking forward to seeing him run again.
“It gave everybody a lot of satisfaction, what he did at Epsom, not just me. We always thought he could do something like that, but you can never be sure.
“Obviously the world was always thought of him and we were delighted that he could go and put that Guineas run behind him.”
O’Brien also runs Adelaide River, Covent Garden, Peking Opera and San Antonio, but they are all big prices behind Ryan Moore’s mount, who incredibly is still searching for a first Irish Derby winner.
In fourth place at Epsom was Jessica Harrington’s Sprewell, who may have finished slightly closer with a clearer run.
“He was unlucky at Epsom, he was in the right position at the right time but three fancied horses in front of him stopped dead for various reasons. He just got brought back and had nowhere to go,” said Harrington.
“There are always bad-luck stories at Epsom, but you’ve got to get over it and get on with the next race.
“He’s got a great attitude and if you’ve got an attitude like that it does help.
“He handled the ground great then, everyone said ‘he’s only a soft-ground horse’ but it wasn’t the fact that I wanted to run him on soft ground, it just happened that the races came up.”
Shane Foley has made it back from a broken collar bone in time to keep up the partnership.
John Murphy’s White Birch was one place ahead of Sprewell, having already won the Ballysax Stakes and finished second in the Dante.
“I was delighted with the run. I think he could have been a bit better as he starts his races quite slowly and then gallops very genuinely,” said Murphy.
“He’s a very sound horse, I don’t think he’s ever had a vet.
“He’s very genuine, but he doesn’t break well and I think he’ll get better as the race goes on.
“He’s lightly-raced still, there’s only so many times you can go to the well but he likes his racing and likes his work – every morning he has a great attitude.”
Joseph O’Brien’s Up And Under finished second to White Birch in the Ballysax and filled the same spot behind Sprewell in the Derby Trial at Leopardstown
“It looks a very good race as you’d expect. He has form line with some of the principals in the race and I think it is fair to assume he could run a good race,” said the trainer.
“Probably it would be wishful to say he could win, but we’re hoping for a good run and we’re looking forward to the race.
“It was a good run at Leopardstown behind Sprewell. He is out of a Galileo mare and we’ll be hopeful he will handle the better ground.
“I suppose when you see Sprewell’s run in the Derby, he really franked the form, so we have a nice horse for the future and we’re looking forward to that.”