Aidan O’Brien is planning to run both last year’s winner Luxembourg and Auguste Rodin in the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on Saturday week.
Luxembourg got the better of French-trained duo Onesto and Vadeni in the showpiece event of the Irish Champions Festival last season and has added the Tattersalls Gold Cup to his top-level CV this term.
His last two runs have come at Ascot as he finished second to subsequent Juddmonte International hero Mostahdaf in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes before placing fourth in the King George, a race in which his dual Derby-winning stablemate Auguste Rodin proved a bitter disappointment.
O’Brien has found no obvious reason for that listless display, but is hopeful he can bounce back at Leopardstown on September 9.
“We’re very happy with Luxembourg, everything has gone very well. The King George is a tough race and he was on the pace,” said the Ballydoyle handler.
“The plan is at the moment both he and Auguste Rodin are going to Leopardstown. Really we don’t know what happened to Auguste in the King George. He was drawn very wide and trapped very wide and he came off the bridle a lot earlier than Ryan (Moore) would have thought.
“His first impulse was to protect the horse and he was very surprised what happened. Before he had to ask too much he just pulled him up and that’s the reality of the situation.
“It’s probably a blessing in disguise as if he came off the bridle at the stage he was probably going to get a very tough race. For a baby three-year-old he was probably lucky he didn’t get into a brawl and he came home very well.”
O’Brien hinted that whatever the result at Leopardstown Auguste Rodin, a son of Japanese sire Deep Impact, is unlikely to remain in training as a four-year-old.
“He’s such a unique horse pedigree-wise he’s kind of irreplaceable really,” he said.