Feature Story

New highs for Ballydoyle as Auguste Rodin King in Prince of Wales Stakes

New highs for Ballydoyle as Auguste Rodin King in Prince of Wales Stakes Jun 19, 2024

By Duane Fonseca - 

Aidan O’Brien won the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (2000m) for the fifth time at Ascot on Wednesday after Auguste Rodin delivered one of the grittiest performances of his illustrious career to claim a career sixth top-tier honour and bring his master trainer a 400th Group/Grade One success.

The 2023 Derby winner’s last trip to the winners’ enclosure was gained Stateside in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in November and since then he had finished 12th in the Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic, with a resurgent performance in the form of a second in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in late May. 

Sent out the favourite at Ascot, the famous four-year-old son of Deep Impact was held in fourth by Ryan Moore, who nudged his mount forward rounding the turn for home. Royal Rhyme had the lead straightening up, but Auguste Rodin was clearly in control of the race and hit the front 400m from the finish. Auguste Rodin edged towards the inner rail as he went full throttle with Moore riding him all the way to the finish after Jerome Reynier’s Zarakem (Maxime Guyon) picked up late to steal the runners up spot from fellow French traveller Horizon Dore (Patrice Cottier/Mickael Barzalona).

Auguste Rodin’s three-quarters of a length brought his rider Moore an 81st Royal Ascot success, helping the Irishman draw level with Italian legend Frankie Dettori.

Moore said: “He's a great little horse. He took me there, going very well, and when I asked him he really showed great courage. He wanted to win. He's a proper horse."

O’Brien added: “I’m so delighted for the lads, he's a very special horse. He gets a mile and a half very well but when he gets to the front he waits, so I was probably giving him the wrong instructions all along. We were riding him too far back and when there was no pace, he was too far out of the race.

"We changed everything, Ryan said he was going to ride him positive from now on and engage him straight away. Honestly, I feel the blips were my fault, the instructions were wrong, and it was time to start getting it right. We saw today, when he gets to the front he waits, and then he goes again. He has a personality. Good horses, they have to develop a personality. And Ryan gave him a very special ride.

"He can do anything, he can go to America - it's totally dependant on what the lads want to do. We were very surprised when he went to the dirt how he handled it, he cruises. The great thing about him now is that he's happy to be ridden forward. Now we're more confident that we've worked him out.”

Wathnan Racing, the racing stable of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, were the first to draw blood as Leovanni, trained by Karl Burke, led home a procession in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes (1000m) for juvenile fillies in the hands of James Doyle, to win comfortably with a length and three quarters to spare from Mighty Eriu, in turn a neck ahead of third-placed Maw Lam. Leovanni’s success was a second for in the race for both Burke and Doyle.

O’Brien and Moore were on target earlier and joined Henry Cecil and George Fordham as the winningmost trainer and jockey in the Group 2 Queen’s Vase (3yos) after Illinois proved his staying credentials to run home a game winner of the 2800m contest. O’Brien enjoyed his eighth success and a 1-2 as Illinois, second in the Listed Lingfield Derby Trial, led home stable companion Highbury (Wayne Lordan), with Jessica Harrington’s Birdman (Shane Foley) completing a top three for the Irish.

Speaking of Illinois, O’Brien added: “We will probably take our time with and let him have the chance to develop the way he wants to. He had to do it tough. I think he might have a little bit more class than a Cup horse. His sister won the Arc, so he’s that type.”

After O’Brien it was John and Thady Gosdens’ turn to enjoy an exacta and that happened in the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes (fillies and mares), where Running Lion (Oisin Murphy) finished two clear of stablemate Laurel (Moore), with Doom a further two adrift in third for William Haggas and Tom Marquand.

Running Lion’s owner David Howden said: “She gets her head down; she changes her legs and she digs in. Her sire, Roaring Lion, won his races exactly the same way.

“We’re partners with Royal Ascot, I bred her, she’s out of Roaring Lion, who tragically died, it couldn’t be more special. For Oisin to do it on Roaring Lion’s filly, Running Lion, is as good as it gets.”