400 up for O’Brien as Auguste Rodin sculpts Royal Ascot Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes victory

Aidan O’Brien trained his 400th career Group One winner courtesy of Auguste Rodin in the feature £1m, Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (2000m) at Royal Ascot on Wednesday.

Auguste Rodin and Ryan Moore hold off the challengers, picture Liesl King

Ridden by Ryan Moore, the 13/8 favourite had to dig deep to hold off sustained challenges from the French duo Zarakem and Horizon Dore. The distances were three quarters of a length and a length.

Inspiral, who won at last year’s Breeders’ Cup and was considered a key danger to Auguste Rodin, found little when asked for her effort in the straight and finished sixth. 

This was Auguste Rodin’s sixth win in G1 company - a tally includes last year's Derby and Irish Derby - and he became O’Brien’s fifth victory in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, equalling the records of Sir Henry Cecil and John Gosden.

O’Brien said: “I am so delighted for everybody, especially the lads – they make it happen. Without them, none of it would happen. So many people I don’t mention every day, the people in the farm, the people in the office. There’s so many people. I am so grateful to them all for making this happen. 

“Auguste Rodin is a very special horse. He gets a mile and a half very well. I was probably giving instructions wrong all along, we were riding him too far back and if there was no pace in the race, he was too far out of the race. So we changed everything. Ryan said he was going to ride him positive, engage him straight away – he’ll get up there and cruise off any pace. He is very straightforward. 

“I feel the blips were my fault, the instructions were wrong, and it took us to this time to start getting it right. We saw today that when he gets to the front, he waits, and then he goes again, and that’s what makes him very good. He has a personality, and good horses, they have to develop a personality to become good. And he has everything – the action, the movement, the temperament, the pedigree. So he’s very special really and Ryan gave him a very special ride.”

On future plans, he added: “The lads will decide what they want to do. We give them the feedback and then they make a decision. He can do anything really. He can go to America… we were very surprised when he went to the dirt with the way he handled it. He cruises. The great thing about him is now we see that he’s very happy to be ridden forwards, we were probably riding him back too far and not giving him a chance. I think he can do anything, really. It’s totally dependent on what the lads want to do. Whether he goes to America, whether he stays around here. I think now we are more confident that we have worked him out.”

Moore said: “Auguste Rodin is a proper horse. Okay, a few times it hasn't happened, but there have been reasons every time. The King George was maybe coming after a hard run in both Derbies, which is a hard thing to do.

"He is a Group One winner at two, he won four Group Ones last year, and people are always very quick to knock horses. As soon as they get beat, they want to have a go at you. Every time you send them away, they have a pop at that as well.

"He took me there going very well, and when I asked him, he really showed great courage. He wanted to win. He has been a real good horse and did everything beautifully today – he deserved that."

Zarakem’s trainer Jerome Reynier said: “I am very happy with him. It has been the start of a really nice career – he won his maiden, won his class 2 and two Listed races, and then he sold at the Arc sale for half a million. The new connections have been very kind to leave the horse with me, and on his reappearance this year, he won a Group Two on heavy ground. Today he’s been second in a very hot race at Royal Ascot in a Group One on firm ground, so he can do everything. He is a complete athlete, improving with age, mentally and physically. He is entered in the Arc at the end of the year, because he does Longchamp so well and he seems to have plenty of stamina. Auguste Rodin is tough to beat; he was a very strong contender and has plenty of international experience. For Zarakem, this was his first time abroad and out of France, so it opens many, many doors, and we’ll see if we will be back for the King George in a few weeks’ time. We don’t want to rush him, and we can keep the Arc as a final target for the year.”

Pauline Chehboub, who manages Gousserie Racing, said: “We are very pleased with the performance of Horizon Dore. He showed again he is a Group One horse and we are very happy. We will see the plan for the second half of the season, but maybe it will be the Champion Stakes. He’s an easy horse, more and more macho with age – he’s a super horse.”

Auguste Rodin and Moore brought up O'Brien's 400th Group 1 win, picture Liesl King

4.25pm Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series)
1 Auguste Rodin (Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier & Westerberg) Aidan O’Brien IRE 4-9-02 Ryan Moore 13/8F
2 Zarakem (Ecurie Benaroussi Sofiane/Harasd’Etreham) Jerome Reynier FR 4-9-02 Maxime Guyon 33/1
3 Horizon Dore (Gousserie Racing/EC Gribomont/F Delaunay) Patrice Cottier FR 4-9-02 Mickael Barzalona 7/1
10 ran

Aidan O’Brien – 87th Royal Ascot winner
Ryan Moore – 81st Royal Ascot winner