The victory by Auguste Rodin in the Irish Champion Stakes was an appropriate salute to his wonderful sire Deep Impact, from whose very last crop Auguste Rodin hails. As this crop contains just over a dozen foals, it is safe to say that Auguste Rodin is the last of the very good Deep Impacts. And what a superb athlete the son of Rhododendron is.
It was plain to see from the clear-cut no nonsense tactics employed by the Ballydoyle team at Leopardstown that the chips were down, and that Auguste Rodin was on a mission not just to erase the memory of his previous outing at Ascot but to re-establish himself as a major potential stallion.
In the event, the brown colt didn’t disappoint and ran the race of his life to see off last year’s winner Luxembourg, with the very talented Nashwa and King Of Steel close behind.
Did the race establish Auguste Rodin as the best three-year-old in Europe? Probably not. But he did improve his Timeform rating by 3lb up to 128, which now has him equal on merit with stable companion Paddington, but still marginally behind the 129p of Prix du Jockey Club winner Ace Impact. Nevertheless, as a Group 1-winning two-year-old who trained on to win a Derby and a hotly contested Irish Champion Stakes, he ticks all the boxes for his second career.
So, where does Auguste Rodin sit on Deep Impact’s roll of honour as a sire? If we use Timeform as a guide, he is right up among the very best. His rating of 128 places him on level terms with Group 1 Tokyo Yushun winner Kizuna (one of seven winners of Japan’s Derby for Deep Impact) and Fierement, twice winner of the Group 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) at Kyoto.
All three are one pound shy of the 129-rated A Shin Hikari, who achieved his two lifetime best performances outside Japan, taking the Group 1 Hong Kong Cup and Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan. On official ratings, his mark of 123 is the same as Fierement and behind A Shin Hikari (127), Contrail (126) and Glory Vase (125). Whichever way you look at it, Auguste Rodin is one of the very best Deep Impacts and should be afforded a decent opportunity to carry on his sire’s legacy.
Speaking of legacy, the Japan Cup and Triple Crown winner Deep Impact could really do with a worthy heir. So far, only five sons have sired a Group 1 winner and only Kizuna among the five has sired as many as two. This is one area where he lags behind his own sire Sunday Silence, who has 27 sires of Group 1 winners, among them Hat Trick (14), St Leger winner Continuous’s sire Heart’s Cry (now on 12), Stay Gold (10), Fuji Kiseki (8), Daiwa Major (7), Gold Allure (6) and Manhattan Café (5) among many other successful sire sons.
Sire sons of Deep Impact, who died at the age of 17, have a lot to live up to, in that Deep Impact’s own numbers seem to be unassailable. He has sired 197 stakes winners, 156 of them at Group level, and a remarkable total of 59 Group 1 winners.
Moreover, given that black-type opportunities in Japan are meagre to say the least, his 11.5% stakes winners is very impressive and his 9.2% Group winners even more so. Just to put this in context, only the very best in Europe, where black-type opportunities proliferate compared to Japan, get beyond 10% Group winners to runners, Frankel with 12%, Dubawi on 11.7% and Galileo on 11%.
A strong feature of Deep Impact’s legacy has been his success in Europe, where he has sired 22 stakes winners from just 74 runners, a remarkable strike-rate of 30%, while his Group winners to runners rate comes in at an equally impressive 22% from 16 Group winners.
Auguste Rodin is clearly the best of the group and they also feature Classic winners Saxon Warrior, winner of the 2,000 Guineas, Oaks scorer Snowfall, French Oaks and Nassau Stakes heroine Fancy Blue, Prix du Jockey Club victor Study Of Man and Poule d’Essai des Pouliches winner Beauty Parlour.
Remarkably, three of Deep Impact’s six European Classic winners – Auguste Rodin, Snowfall and Saxon Warrior – are out of mares by Galileo, while another, Fancy Blue, is out of a mare by Galileo’s sire Sadler’s Wells.
Of course, one of Deep Impact’s sons to have sired a Group 1 winner is the Coolmore-based Saxon Warrior, who got his stud career off to a good start when his son Victoria Road (from Auguste Rodin’s family) won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland last year. Saxon Warrior’s six first-crop stakes winners also feature Lumiere Rock, who won the Blandford Stakes on day two of Irish Champions Weekend.
Saxon Warrior may not have set the breeding world alight this year, but he has a strike-rate of almost 10% stakes winners to runners.
It would be foolish to draw any conclusions from Saxon Warrior’s quieter season. For one thing, rated 124 and best over a mile, he is a different proposition to Auguste Rodin, whose dam and family are of a higher order. His dam Rhododendron won the Fillies’ Mile as a two-year-old before finishing runner-up in both the 1,000 Guineas (to Winter) and Oaks (to Enable). It wasn’t until the back end of the season that she returned to the winner’s circle in the Prix de l’Opera.
Then as a four-year-old, she stepped back to a mile to land the Lockinge Stakes. Rated as high as 120 by Timeform, Rhododendron was still nowhere near as good as her magnificent Galileo full sister, the 128-rated Magical, whose seven Group 1 victories featured two runnings of the Irish Champion Stakes.
They are both out of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Pivotal mare Halfway To Heaven, who scored three times at the highest level between a mile and ten furlongs, and she in turn is a daughter of an excellent sprinter in Cassandra Go (by Indian Ridge), a King’s Stand winner (when run as a Group 2) who also finished second in the July Cup.
So, with a 120-rated dam, a 118-rated granddam and 119-rated third dam from a top-class family built on speed, it is easy to get excited about Auguste Rodin’s prospects as a stallion.