Auguste Rodin started out his three-year-old season with a massive reputation and a hype machine in overdrive but, despite three Group 1 wins, many are not convinced by him.
What cannot be debated is the talent he possesses and the will to win. It is just that there are some flaws in his make-up as well. A champion with flaws however is no bad thing.
He's become a winner of the England and Irish Derby's this summer and added the Irish Champion Stakes in the autumn.
The Breeders' Cup remains a possibility before the year is out and Auguste Rodin has certainly proved a horse that is exciting to follow.
|What||Breeders' Cup Turf|
|Where||Santa Anita Racecourse, Arcadia, California|
|When||Saturday 4th November, 2023|
|How to watch||bet365 live Sports Streaming, Racing TV|
|Odds||Auguste Rodin 11/4, Mostahdaf 5/1, Onesto 7/1, Emily Upjohn 8/1, Up To The Mark 8/1, King Of Steel 12/1|
Like so many from Ballydoyle, Auguste Rodin marked himself down as a talent with notable successes in his 2YO season.
He was beaten on his debut at the Curragh over 7f in June of 2022 but would put together a three-race winning sequence thereafter.
The maiden tag went at Naas in July and a rise in class was met with aplomb in the Champions Juvenile over a mile on soft ground at Leopardstown in September.
After that Group 2 score, Doncaster was the next target and a first start on British soil in the Group 1 Futurity Trophy in late October on bottomless ground.
Auguste Rodin powered home over the Town Moor mile and won by more than three-lengths, marking an excellent end to his first season.
Ahead of the 2023 season Aidan O'Brien suggested that: "He could be a Triple Crown type of horse because he could have enough pace for a mile as a three-year-old, he could get a mile and a half and could get even further. He's a horse you could dream about."
That certainly helped put lots of scrutiny on Auguste Rodin and with no fears on soft ground at Newmarket in May, he was the 13/8fav for the 2000 Guineas.
It didn't go well from a long way out and, in the end, Ryan Moore's partner beat only two of 13 rivals home as Chaldean and Frankie Dettori won the first Classic of the season.
It was back to the drawing board after that disappointment but, as always, writing off O'Brien's view could be oh-so dangerous.
Come Epsom in June, Auguste Rodin was no longer favourite but, once more, his trainer was sounding confident that he had the colt in the right place to fire at the Derby.
So it would prove on the famous Downs.
King Of Steel looked to slip the field coming off Tattenham Corner and briefly Kevin Stott's partner seemed to have done it. Moore and Auguste Rodin emerged as the final challengers however and there was an inevitability as they swarmed on the leader late on, going by to win by a half-length.
A month later at the Curragh a coronation was anticipated with Auguste Rodin odds-on to complete the English-Irish Derby double.
He did it, but seemingly under some duress with runner-up and stablemate Adelaide River having appeared a major danger for much of the closing stages.
Covent Garden, an 80/1 shot, stayed on for third ahead of Peking Opera as O'Brien completed a 1-2-3-4 in the Classic - his 100th European Classic win and 15th in the Curragh showpiece.
The King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot in late July was the next stop and once more, King Of Steel was there for a tilt at Auguste Rodin – the 9/4fav.
In the end, Hukum beat Westover in a thrilling duel, with King Of Steel third and Auguste Rodin eased off by Moore three-furlongs out as their challenge faltered.
Another redemptive win followed, coming away from defending champ and stablemate Luxembourg in second with Group 1-winning filly Nashwa in third ahead of King Of Steel.
It was another masterful training feat from O'Brien, who remarked post-race of Auguste Rodin: "He's a very brilliant horse, very tough and very hardy, but he's a little bit peculiar."