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Japan Cup likely to come into focus for Auguste Rodin

Japan Cup likely to come into focus for Auguste Rodin
Japan Cup likely to come into focus for Auguste Rodin

The Japan Cup has emerged as an end-of-year option for the Aidan O’Brien-trained Auguste Rodin, who will be seen next in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Last year’s Derby hero started his four-year-old season up at a mile and a half in Meydan, but has dropped back to 10 furlongs the last twice, adding the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot to the Irish Champion Stakes he won over a mile and a quarter last year.

Such was the impressive nature of his success at the Royal meeting, connections would have been fully entitled to remain at that winning trip for the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.

However, with the lure of becoming the first Derby winner since Golden Horn in 2015 to win the Eclipse, it was City Of Troy who got the nod to head to Sandown from Ballydoyle, with Auguste Rodin booked for a return to both 12 furlongs and Ascot later this month.

O’Brien said: “I suppose the Eclipse did come under consideration, but the lads make the plans about what they would like to do with them, and with Auguste Rodin he has won over a mile and a half last year and is an older horse, he’s had three runs now and two runs before Ascot.

“Ascot was his first big-race target of the year we felt and there was always the possibility that if it did go well we would go back to Ascot for the King George.

“Obviously the Eclipse is a really prestigious race for a three-year-old and there was always the possibility if it did go right in the Derby, City Of Troy would go to the Eclipse to take on the older horses and for us to learn a little bit more about the horse and for the horse to learn a bit more as well.

“I suppose Auguste Rodin definitely would have been in the mix for the Eclipse, but it looks the right fit to go back to Ascot for the King George with him and the lads obviously felt it was the right call to go with City Of Troy in the Eclipse.”

Separating Coolmore’s two most recent Epsom heroes does not come easy when both bring such champion qualities to the table, with both having their name mentioned in the same breath for the Breeders’ Cup Classic over the course of the last year.

Ryan Moore and Auguste Rodin after the Breeders' Cup
Ryan Moore and Auguste Rodin after the Breeders’ Cup (PA)

But having already enjoyed success at the end-of-season championships in the Turf in 2023, Auguste Rodin – a son of the late Japanese superstar Deep Imapct – could be tasked with breaking O’Brien’s duck in the Japan Cup later in the year, leaving the road to Del Mar clear for his stablemate.

“They both have different options for the second half of the season and Auguste Rodin could be a Japan Cup horse,” continued O’Brien.

“He has won at the Breeders’ Cup already and maybe the lads might do that and maybe City Of Troy could be a horse for the Classic.

“They like to play all their cards differently to suit their horses and at the same time they love watching racing and going racing, so they try to spread them out.”

City Of Troy’s route to Del Mar could include a trip to York next month or a first outing of the year on home soil, while the master of Ballydoyle is in no rush to expose the all-conquering son of Justify to dirt before a possible run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, with a trip to Southwell mooted to garner experience on a similar surface.

City Of Troy has been earmarked as a Breeders' Cup Classic candidate
City Of Troy has been earmarked as a Breeders’ Cup Classic candidate (John Walton/PA)

“I suppose the leap after this race would have to be either the Irish Champion Stakes or the Juddmonte International and I would imagine the lads would be looking at those races, without knowing or discussing what they are thinking,” added O’Brien.

“I would hope we keep him racing in this part of the world for as long as we can and I just feel he is going to be a very important horse to European pedigrees if we can keep him to this part of the world.

“We’ve had horses just beaten in the Classic before, Declaration Of War and Giant’s Causeway, and they never went over for a dirt race before that. We took them to Southwell for a gallop and I know the surface has changed there now, it’s Tapeta and a bit different to Polytrack.

“I would hope if the Eclipse went well, it would be another race and if we decide to go to America then maybe we give him a day out at Southwell or something. None of that is written in stone what the lads are thinking, but that’s what is going on in our heads at the minute.”

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