AUGUSTE RODIN or Ace Impact? In the battle of two Derby heroes there’s no doubt it’s the former for me.
Flat seasons come to life when the European Derby winners look something special.
Auguste Rodin looked special in the Epsom Derby
This day last week Auguste Rodin exploded back to life at Epsom, powering clear for Aidan O’Brien to provide the master of Ballydoyle with an incredible ninth success in the ultimate three-year-old smash-up.
Then 24 four hours later Ace Impact took the French version, the Prix du Jockey Club, in devastating style from off the pace under Cristian Demuro.
It was trainer Jean Claude Rouget’s fifth success in the Classic in the last eight years.
Targets for both colts have yet to be finalised, although there’s always a chance of a smash up in the Irish Derby on July 2.
O’Brien tells me it “looks likely” Auguste Rodin will bid for a Derby double.
Many will remember when the brilliant Epsom winner Generous defeated the Chantilly star Suave Dancer when they clashed at the Curragh in 1991.
But that was in the days when the Jockey Club was over the proper Derby trip of a mile and a half.
Alas the French cut the distance of their main event to an extended mile and a quarter in 2005 which means Ace Impact is likely to be kept short of 12 furlongs for the time being.
The hope is the unbeaten Ace Impact will tackle Auguste Rodin at some stage and, when they do, I fully expect the Coolmore beast to come out on top.
Form gurus believe both horses are worthy of a similar rating right now, but I’m not so sure.
Ace Impact has never been beaten, so for many he’s the one with the most improvement to come.
The son of Cracksman — great to see that sire with a massive Group 1 to his name — came from a long way off the pace to pick up former handicapper Big Rock at Chantilly.
Personally I think he was flattered, however, as the runner-up looked a non-stayer. Time will tell.
As it happens, I suspect Auguste Rodin is the one who is only starting to develop.
Last season Auguste Rodin was denied a clear run when beaten on debut, and then only did enough to win his next two starts before hacking up in desperate ground in the Vertem Futurity at Doncaster.
Of course all that could go wrong did so in the 2,000 Guineas where he finished thirteenth behind Chaldean, and it’s arguable he hardly had a race that day.
To come out a month later and beat a host of trial winners in what looked a competitive Derby was an incredible effort and a massive credit to his world class handler.
Auguste Rodin has speed and stamina and, as O’Brien has been at pains to point out, a pedigree full of class.
A son of the great Japanese monster Deep Impact, Auguste Rodin is the initial foal of Oaks runner-up Rhododendron, the first of Galileo’s daughters to produce a Derby winner.
For fans of bloodlines this is huge for the sport with Galileo having passed in July 2021.
Speaking of the Derby, the dream is alive that the last three who strode to glory at Epsom could eventually clash at Ascot in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes later this term.
An all-star get together between Auguste Rodin, Desert Crown and Adayar would truly be something special, although all three might be racing over a mile and a quarter in July!
Worth remembering another Derby winner, Serpentine is still strutting his stuff Down Under.
In many ways the lads at Coolmore — the Magnier, Tabor and Smith clans — have saved the Derby.
And they are not alone in loving the race, just think how much Dubai Mile’s owner Ahmad Al Sheikh craves to land the prize.
It’s the calm before the Royal Ascot storm on ITV today, with Haydock and Beverley taking centre stage.
I’ll be hosting the Opening Show at 9.30am so I hope you will join us, and no doubt there will be plenty of discussion over the Group 3 Sky Bet John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock.
Many will fancy Australian raider The Astrologist, although I’m not sure about his stamina for this seven furlongs even though he won a Group 3 over the trip at Ascot (Australia’s version) in December.
Possibly The Wizard Of Eye can make all for an upset under the talented Kieran Shoemark.
He ran a cracker when closing late off a slow pace in the Lockinge at Newbury and this is much easier.
Another horse with a bit of Galileo in the pedigree. Yeeehaaa!