Irish Champion Stakes: Auguste Rodin joins King Of Steel as joint favourite
Derby winner Auguste Rodin is now the 3/1 joint favourite with Coral for Saturday’s 2023 Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes after attracting plenty of support over the last 24 hours.
King Of Steel had been the outright favourite earlier in the week but there is now nothing to choose between the two in the Irish Champion Stakes odds.
Coral’s Lewis Knowles said: “This has been an extremely active market, and although earlier in the week it looked almost certain that King Of Steel would go off favourite, things have changed very quickly here.
“The money has definitely come for Auguste Rodin over the last 24 hours, and if this continues, then there’s no telling how short he could be come Saturday afternoon.”
King Of Steel is reported “in great form” as Roger Varian’s Derby second and King George third, who has also won the King Edward VII Stakes this season, drops down to 10 furlongs at Leopardstown.
Connections sidestepped the Juddmonte International at York to wait for this contest and are now hoping that patience will be rewarded.
Tom Pennington, racing manager for owners Amo Racing, said: “We’ve been looking for an option to drop King Of Steel back to 10 furlongs all year and we’re very much looking forward to it.
“The ground will be on the quick side of good which wouldn’t concern us overly based on his runs at Epsom and Royal Ascot.
“There is no such thing as an easy Group One but hopefully our patience will be rewarded. We’ve looked after him this year and Roger has been very patient and we’re excited.”
Aidan O’Brien’s dual Derby winner Auguste Rodin was below par in the King George at Ascot last time out but that is not putting off the punters.
O’Brien also runs 10/1 chance Luxembourg, who bids to retain his crown after getting the better of French-trained duo Onesto and Vadeni in the showpiece event of the Irish Champions Festival last season.
His last two runs have come at Ascot, as he finished second to subsequent Juddmonte International hero Mostahdaf in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes before placing fourth in the King George.
“We’re very happy with Luxembourg, everything has gone very well,” said O’Brien. “The King George is a tough race and he was on the pace.
“Really, we don’t know what happened to Auguste in the King George. He was drawn very wide and trapped very wide and he came off the bridle a lot earlier than Ryan (Moore) would have thought.
“His first impulse was to protect the horse and he was very surprised by what happened. Before he had to ask too much, he just pulled him up and that’s the reality of the situation.
“It’s probably a blessing in disguise, as if he came off the bridle at a later stage, he was probably going to get a very tough race. For a baby three-year-old, he was probably lucky he didn’t get into a brawl and he came home very well.”
Fabrice Chappet is confident last year’s runner-up Onesto will put up another bold show with Frankie Dettori on board and he can be backed at 11/2.
“One place better than last year will do,” quipped Chappet. “He has never run a bad race, he has been unlucky a few times, but he rarely runs a bad race. So I expect a good run one more time.
“He had a little issue in the spring, but the best races for him are coming up now anyway. He is a very versatile horse, he is a Group One winner going 2400 metres (Grand Prix de Paris) and ran a very good race in this last year going 2000 metres and also ran a good race down in trip in the Jacques le Marois.
“He definitely has more speed than a mile and a half horse and he can probably do anything from a mile to middle distances – he showed a good bit of speed last time.”
Nashwa has been trimmed to 6/1 in Coral’s Irish Champion Stakes betting odds following a pleasing workout.
Having secured her third Group One victory with a dominant performance in the Falmouth at Newmarket in mid-July, John and Thady Gosden’s filly has since finished third in the Nassau at Goodwood and second in the Juddmonte International.
Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Nashwa’s owner Imad Al Sagar, said: “We are positive, she did a nice little bit and everyone’s very happy.
“It seems the right spot to go for. She’s come out of York very well and Imad’s excited about going to Leopardstown. She’s in great shape and we’re looking forward to it.”
Alflaila is 11/2 for his first shot at Group One glory at Leopardstown after being supplemented at a cost of €75,000, and his connections are relishing the challenge.
Having won a Listed prize at Pontefract and Group Threes at York and Newmarket last season, the Owen Burrows-trained colt made a triumphant return from nine months on the sidelines when powering home to lift the Group Two York Stakes in July.
Shadwell’s racing manager Angus Gold said: “Alflaila wasn’t in the Irish Champion initially because he obviously had a little injury at the end of last year and we hadn’t seen him back on the track when the entries were made, but it now makes sense to have a go at this.
“It’s a very high-class race, as you would expect, but we’ll have a go and see what happens.”
Irish Champion Stakes odds
3/1 King Of Steel, Auguste Rodin
11/2 Onesto, Alflaila
15/2 Al Riffa
100/1 Point Lonsdale
All odds and market correct at date of publication