In his 30th year training, Aidan O’Brien could have a potential landmark Triple Crown achievement in his sights.
The man who has rewritten flat racing’s record books has won almost everything there is to win although one accomplishment remains elusive.
No horse has completed the English Triple Crown of 2,000 Guineas, Derby, and St Leger since the legendary Nijinsky in 1970.
However, Paddy Power reckon O’Brien’s leading classic hopeful Auguste Rodin is no more than a 16-1 chance to pull off the historic feat this year.
Winner of last year’s Futurity, the son of Deep Impact tops the Guineas betting along with his stable companion Little Big Bear and is an overwhelming ante-post favourite for Derby glory at Epsom.
The range of Triple Crown demands differ on this side of the Atlantic compared to America.
The three legs of the US Triple Crown take place this year between the Kentucky Derby on May 6th and the Belmont Stakes on June 10th with just a 2½ furlong range in race distances overall.
In England the 2,000 Guineas at a mile takes place at the start of May, continues to the Derby at a mile and a half a month later, while there is a long gap to the Leger’s 14½ furlong test in September.
The Leger has become an outlier in elite bloodstock terms although the Triple Crown remains an ambition for the Coolmore Stud operation.
O’Brien first identified it as a possible target way back in 2002 with Hawk Wing but he finished runner-up in both the Guineas and the Derby.
However, Camelot notoriously came within an ace of pulling it off in 2012, winning the first two legs before getting beaten at Doncaster by Godolphin’s Enke.
A year later Enke was one of the horses trained by the disgraced Mahmood Al Zarooni that tested positive for anabolic steroids.
O’Brien, who first took a licence to train in 1993, was out of luck with four runners when the Irish flat season kicked off at the Curragh on Saturday.
However, his traditional use of the track for post-race gallops underlined the strength in depth of his latest classic team.
Auguste Rodin was to the fore of a group that worked over almost a mile up the straight at HQ and also included Little Big Bear.
It was the latter’s first time being seen in public since running out a brilliant winner of last August’s Phoenix Stakes.
If a mile looks the limit of his stamina range, anticipation of Auguste Rodin’s versatility and mix of speed and stamina has some bookmakers taking no chances. Powers go no more than 10-1 about him landing the Guineas and the Derby.
“Wayne [Lordan] was very happy with Auguste Rodin. He was relaxed and did everything right. You couldn’t be happier with him.
“Obviously he’ll be looking at the Guineas. He’ll definitely go there without a run. When you are following up the likes of The Antarctic there, there are very few races you’d get as strong as that piece of work. They are highly rated horses,” O’Brien said afterward.
“Little Big Bear finished out very easy and Seamus [Heffernan] seemed very happy. That was 7½ furlongs today and he’ll go straight to the Guineas as well,” he added.
Although Cario disappointed in Saturday’s UAE Derby, O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore struck on the Dubai World Cup card with the veteran Broome in the Group Two Gold Cup.
The Irish horse ran down Siskany in the closing stages to win on just his second start at two miles.
Broome now looks set to go down the ‘Cup’ route this season with a tilt at the Melbourne Cup in November already on the trainer’s radar.
“Obviously, he’s going to go the Cup route and we’ll look at all those races on the way down to the Melbourne Cup. That’s probably what we’re going to do with him.
“He won’t have to run in the two Irish trials, he can go straight to Ascot. After that he can do Goodwood and all those types of races and then finish off down in Australia.
“”He’s seven now and he’s the perfect age to be doing all those races, travelling as an older horse.
“He’s an amazing horse, he was very genuine at Meydan. Looking at him, you’d say we should have stepped him up in trip a lot earlier,” O’Brien said.
Broome is a general 12-1 shot for Gold Cup glory at Ascot with his stable companion Kyprios a red-hot 5-4 favourite.