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O'Brien Confident of Big Show From Auguste Rodin

Prince of Wales's Stakes features 2024 Breeders' Cup winners Auguste Rodin, Inspiral.

Auguste Rodin trains at Ballydoyle

Auguste Rodin trains at Ballydoyle

Patrick McCann/Racing Post

Auguste Rodin is hot favorite for a marquee race, this time the June 19 Prince of Wales's Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot. We've been here before, haven't we? The English Two Thousand Guineas (G1), the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1), and the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1T). In fact, only once in his 12-race career has he not been favorite. In the Derby, no less.

That was the day he proved his ability to bounce back when gunning down King Of Steel at 9-2 following a shocker at Newmarket in the Guineas. We questioned him going into Epsom and we are questioning him again now.

The son of Deep Impact has yet to win a race this year, but that's not to say the real Auguste Rodin will not open his account here. He is the best horse in the field of 10 on ratings, and there is nobody more able than Aidan O'Brien at getting them back to their best.

Auguste Rodin did not run badly in the Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1). He pulled eight lengths clear of the third but could not repel the late surge of the rapidly improving White Birch.

There is no White Birch in this field, though, and O'Brien reports Auguste Rodin to be in top shape as the trainer attempts to win his fifth Prince of Wales's.

O'Brien said: "The rain just came at the wrong time for him at the Curragh and he had a little wobble in the race, too, which Ryan (Moore) said just knocked him out of his rhythm a bit.

"We've had the Prince of Wales's in mind for him all season and we think he has come forward nicely from his run in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. Nice ground is perfect for him. We're very happy."

Trainers John and Thady Gosden have been bold, and the one-mile Queen Anne Stakes (G1) has been swerved. Instead, Inspiral will return to the same 10-furlong trip as her breathtaking Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) success, where she swooped late and fast under an inspired Frankie Dettori ride to beat Warm Heart by a neck.

Inspiral and Frankie Dettori win the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf 11.4.23 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, CA Mathea Kelley
Photo: Mathea Kelley
Trainer John Gosden and Frankie Dettori share congratulations after Inspiral's win in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita Park

There is no Dettori this time, and a mile and a quarter round Ascot is very different to Santa Anita Park, but John Gosden said his star filly, who won the Coronation Stakes (G1) in 2022 and was narrowly denied in last year's Queen Anne, pleased him in her most recent workout.

"We've been pleased with her progress since the Lockinge when she simply needed the run. She worked nicely on the July course 10 days ago and we always had it in mind to step back up to a mile and a quarter," Gosden said.

Gosden also saddles Lord North, who won this race in 2020 and is a class act on his day.

Ward IN SEARCH OF ANOTHER Queen Mary

Can Wesley Ward pull another rabbit out of the hat with his first runner of the week? The Queen Mary Stakes (G2) has been kind to the pioneering American trainer (three successes since 2015), and we can expect rapid Keeneland dirt winner Ultima Grace (stall 17) to help force the pace among those drawn centrally Wednesday.

Ward's Ascot blasters are often vulnerable in the final half-furlong, although this filly is bred to stay further. She is by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah  and out of a dam who won at 7 furlongs.

Ultima Grace, Maiden Win, Keeneland, April 18 2024
Photo: Coady Photo
Ultima Grace breaks her maiden at Keeneland

It is dangerous to get overly wrapped up in draw analysis for the straight-track races at Ascot, as biases can change. Still, identifying any eye-catching trends will be a worthwhile pursuit for many.

Only one of the last 10 Queen Mary winners was drawn in a stall lower than 12. That was Ward's 2020 winner Campanelle, who broke from stall one. That data should be balanced with the fact that seven of the first 30 home in that period were berthed in the low numbers, although that's a below-average return for a race averaging 21 runners this decade. This year's field for the five-furlong turf dash numbers 26.

If there is a bias toward high-drawn runners, then Mighty Eriu (stall 24) looks a likely type for Gavin Cromwell. Before My Mate Mozzie finished third of 16 in Tuesday's Copper Horse Handicap, the trainer was 2-for-2 at the royal meeting. Significantly, both of those strikes came in juvenile races, and the first in the Queen Mary.

The Cromwell-trained Quick Suzy dotted up from box 22 in 2021 and, like Mighty Eriu, proved her worth over 6 furlongs before dropping to Ascot's stiff 5 five. 

"It was a lovely first run," Crowell said of Mighty Eriu. "She's in the deep end now but came out of the Curragh very well. She has a nice draw and we're hopeful. She's dropping back to five furlongs and there should be plenty of pace on, and hopefully she'll be doing her best work at the finish."

Diego Dias, trainer of Make Haste, said he is excited about his Blue Point filly who picked up two new American co-owners in LNJ Foxwoods and Gainesway after her May 11 debut win.

"She traveled over on Monday and seemed to take it all in her stride. She's a filly we really like and she won nicely at Naas. Hopefully, we'll be on the right side with the draw [stall 18]."

Treasure Isle Favored in Windsor Castle

Winners of the Windsor Castle Stakes in the last 10 years include Big Evs, Little Big Bear, Soldier's Call, Ardad, Washington DC, and Hootenanny . There might not be a Frankel  in there, yet most listed races, let alone one for 2-year-olds in June, would be pleased with that sort of return. And there are relatively few stories of good horses getting beaten in the race.

That should be reassuring to those who fancy the Aidan O'Brien-trained pair. Treasure Isle and Celtic Chieftain, who according to Racing Post Ratings have among the strongest claims, are drawn right in the middle in 15 and 12 of this field of 28.

United States-based and Florida-bred Gabaldon, winner of the Royal Palm Juvenile Stakes at Gulfstream Park, is listed at 14-1. The Jose D'Angelo trainee, owned by Soldi Stable, will be ridden by Emisael Jaramillo.

Gabaldon wins the 2024 Royal Palm Juvenile Stakes at Gulfstream Park
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Ryan Thompson
Gabaldon after his win in the Royal Palm Juvenile Stakes at Gulfstream Park

The U.S.-based maiden Cheval de Guerre, who was runner-up at Keeneland April 25, is listed at 20-1 for Eddie Kenneally and Resolute Racing.