Auguste Rodin holds off Luxembourg and Nashwa to land Irish Champion classic

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Auguste Rodin rose from the canvas once again to hold off Luxembourg and Nashwa and win the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Despite being a dual Derby winner, Aidan O’Brien’s Deep Impact colt had run two inexplicably bad races this season.

Having disappointed badly in the 2000 Guineas, O’Brien worked his magic to get him back in top form to win at Epsom. He was then workmanlike in winning the Irish Derby, before being virtually pulled up in the King George at Ascot.

Auguste Rodin and Ryan Moore win the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes

Image: Auguste Rodin and Ryan Moore win the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes

But it is folly to write off O’Brien and his horses, and dropped back down to 10 furlongs Auguste Rodin was sent off the 11-4 favourite.

Up against Derby runner-up King Of Steel, last year’s winner Luxembourg and multiple Group One scorer Nashwa, punters kept the faith.

With three Ballydoyle runners at the head of affairs they had the run of the race, while Hollie Doyle only had Jim Crowley and Alflaila for company at the rear of the field.

Auguste Rodin quickened by Luxembourg as Point Lonsdale weakened, with Doyle making relentless progress on John and Thady Gosden’s Nashwa.

Ryan Moore was asking for everything on the favourite, and in the last 50 yards Nashwa’s run flattened out and it was Luxembourg who had one last lunge on the rails, going down by half a length with Nashwa a short head away.

“I have to thank Michael (Tabor) for having the confidence in everybody to relax and calm down and come back (after Ascot). Ryan gave him an incredible ride,” said O’Brien.

“We’re so grateful to so many of the team that made it happen. He was always a brilliant horse, all the way along, from the first day he worked. He travels like a dream and has an awful lot of natural speed. He’s a little bit lazy when he gets there.

“A couple of times this year it just all went totally wrong. All the ducks went against him, you usually want them all to go with you but it all went against him.

“In Ascot all went completely wrong so Ryan took him out of the race, so he did no mental or physical damage to him. He came out of the race so well.

“He’s a dream horse really, he travels and quickens and he’s a little bit lazy when he gets there.”

On why he ran so poorly at Ascot he added: “I suppose everything went wrong. The ground went against him, he was drawn wide, we turned it into a Leger and he’s a horse that’s all class, we flew (to England).

“There was so many reasons that it could go wrong and if even half of those changed the other way we knew we had a big shout today.

“He went by boat to Epsom and that was one of the common denominators that wasn’t stacking up, the flying. Maybe if he flies again he needs to go with a little bit of time, and a little bit of time to get over it.”

O’Brien went on: “He’s a very brilliant horse, very tough and very hardy, but he’s a little bit peculiar. Anne-Marie (O’Brien, wife) was watching him in the stable and if something is happening in his environment he stays awake all night and doesn’t sleep. He’s probably a very sensitive horse and takes in everything.

“The lads never panicked in any way. Everyone knows what he’s worth and how important he is to be breed and it was very easy to say ‘that’s the end’, but they never did. Michael always says he wants to race.

“We always talk to Michael, Derrick (Smith), John (Magnier) and George (Westerberg) after a week or 10 days, but I know the lads love the Breeders’ Cup and there is probably a good chance he’ll go there. That is very possible.

“I’d say it would be for the Turf, I’d be afraid of the dirt (Classic) just in case anything happened.”

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