Five-time Group One winner Auguste Rodin back at Ascot and still with something to prove

Illinois is Ryan Moore’s pick from Aidan O’Brien quartet in Queen’s Vase

Jockey Ryan Moore and Auguste Rodin on their way to winning the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California, on November 4th, 2023. Photograph: Harry How/Getty Images

The last time Auguste Rodin pitched up at Ascot he finished such a distant last it wasn’t binoculars that were needed to spot him so much as radar, something to keep in mind perhaps before he lines up in Wednesday’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.

No other top-level performer in the sport fits so readily into the enigma file as Aidan O’Brien’s unpredictable star. Brilliant at his best, Auguste Rodin also has a disconcerting habit of throwing in howler performances.

One of those was last year’s King George when, on the back of a pair of Derby victories at Epsom and the Curragh, he stopped to a virtual walk before the straight and wound up beaten a massive 127 lengths into last. It made his previous Guineas flop look decent.

O’Brien was left reaching for reasons, concluding at one point that the common denominator for both dismal efforts might have been a dislike for flying, a shaky looking verdict considering Auguste Rodin subsequently went to California and won the Breeders’ Cup. If that suggested maturity was helping consistency, another howling flop in Meydan in March said anything but.


So it all makes for an unlikely scenario whereby a dual-Derby winner, with three other Group One victories under his belt, has a 13th career start with something left to prove.

In Auguste Rodin’s favour will be quick ground and what seems a less than vintage field. Exceptions are the top-class mares Inspiral and Blue Rose Cen, while the gelding Lord North is a former Prince of Wales’s winner, albeit all of four years ago.

Ultimately, though, so much of this revolves around which Auguste Rodin shows up. If he’s in top form he remains the one to beat. If he doesn’t then it opens things up, maybe even to the extent of a surprise winner like Alfaila.

Auguste Rodin is one of 26 Irish-trained declarations for Wednesday, with two of them coming from Kildare-based Brazilian trainer Diego Dias. His Brosay is among the outsiders for the concluding Windsor Castle Stakes, but the two-year-old filly Make Haste is anything but in the opening Queen Mary.

Crucial to the juvenile contests will be the fastest surface most of them have encountered to date, a factor that could prove a major help to Jessica Harrington’s outsider Rock N Roll Rocket in the Windsor Castle.

Ryan Moore has opted for Illinois from O’Brien’s quartet in the Queen’s Vase. Considering he didn’t act around Lingfield his Trial effort behind the subsequent Derby runner-up Ambiente Friendly was commendable.

Rogue Millennium is back to defend the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes she won a year ago but is now in Joseph O’Brien’s charge. A first start for her new trainer yielded an unlucky third to Ocean Jewel at the Curragh. The pair clash again here and quick going could be ideal for the latter.

Adelaise is Joseph O’Brien’s hope for the Kensington Palace where Harrington’s Villanova Queen is also back to defend this title. The impeccably bred Doha, a daughter of dual-Arc winner Treve, might relish a return to a mile and encounters decent ground for the first time.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column