Edited Breeders’ Cup Release — Auguste Rodin (IRE) gave Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore a fifth successive win Saturday in the Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown. The victory earned Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier & Westerberg’s 3-year-old son of Deep Impact (JPN) an automatic berth into the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.
The Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes (G1) was one of three Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races conducted Saturday at Leopardstown, along with the Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes (G1) and the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (G2).
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 80 Graded/Group stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, scheduled to be held Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.
The Irish Champion Stakes was a tactical masterclass from the Ballydoyle team as eventual runner-up Luxembourg (IRE) (4-1) and Point Lonsdale (IRE) cut out the early running with Auguste Rodin (the 11-4 favorite) sitting in behind. The British challengers, King Of Steel, Nashwa (GB), and Alflaila (GB), all settled at the rear of the field. With 2 furlongs to go, Ryan Moore angled his mount out to challenge and drove to the front close home to score by a half-length, with the fast-finishing Nashwa (GB) back in third under Hollie Doyle.
This was another remarkable comeback from the winner, who recovered from his QIPCO 2000 Guineas (G1) disappointment to win the June 3 Betfred Derby (G1) at Epsom. Auguste Rodin was racing for the first time since finishing last of 10 in the July 29 King George VI And Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes (G1) at Ascot.
Following the race, O’Brien told FanDuel TV that the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita is under consideration for Auguste Rodin.
“I’d say there is a very strong possibility because the lads love the Breeders’ Cup, and the Breeders’ Cup is where everyone wants to be at that time of year,” O’Brien said. “We’ll see how he is in a week or 10 days, but there is a very strong possibility that’s where he could be.”
Ryan Moore paid tribute to O’Brien for getting Auguste Rodin back to his best.
“It’s very satisfying for him to come back and prove how good he is,” he said. “Cantering to the start, he felt in a really good place and he floated around there. He’s a very well-balanced horse, a beautiful mover, and it never really felt in any real doubt. I’m delighted with him. It’s a fantastic job by Aidan (O’Brien) to get him back. He’s beaten some proven Group 1 horses there, so it’s satisfying.”
Auguste Rodin completed the 1 1/4-mile race in 2:02:68 over a course listed as good, good-to-firm in places.
Tahirya Dominates Coolmore America ‘Justify’ Matron Stakes
H H Aga Khan’s Tahiyra (IRE) showed her class under a confident Chris Hayes to claim her fourth career Group 1 and win the 1-mile Coolmore America “Justify” Matron Stakes (G1). This victory secured the daughter of Siyouni (FR) an automatic entry into the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
Sent off as the 5-6 favorite for trainer Dermot Weld, Tahirya had not raced since her June 23 win in the Coronation Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot. She traveled strongly in midfield through the early stages with Just Beautiful (GB) making the early running. The 3-year-old filly showed a smart turn of foot to go to the front approaching the final furlong and ran on strongly to score by 1 3/4 lengths. The Tom Clover-trained Rogue Millennium (IRE) finished second, with Just Beautifulback in third.
After the race, trainer Dermot Weld said: “She’s an amazing animal, I have a wonderful team and it’s great credit to them. We have a lot to look forward to with her. The Breeders’ Cup has to be a possibility and there’s a decision to be made as to whether she stays in training next season.”
Tahirya completed the mile in 1:37:50.
Diego Velazquez Leads 1-2 for O’Brien in KPMG Champions Juvenile
Diego Velazquez (IRE) remained unbeaten after quickening past stablemate Capulet in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes (G2) to gain an automatic berth into this year’s $1 million Prevagen Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). Auguste Rodin won this race for the same connections 12 months ago.
A son of Frankel (GB), Diego Velazquez was following up an impressive debut win in a maiden race at The Curragh. He was sent off at odds of 8-15 on Saturday, but was made to work hard for victory. It was not until the final half-furlong before Ryan Moore urged his mount past Capulet to win by a half-length. The Joseph O’Brien-trained Atlantic Coast (IRE) was a further 3 1/4 lengths back in third.
The Smith, Magnier, Tabor, Westerberg, Brant-owned Diego Velazquez completed the 1-mile contest in a time of 1:40:46.