Auguste Rodin, centre, driven home© Photo Healy Racing
Auguste Rodin had questions to answer in the Group 1 Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, but he had all the answers with a smooth performance.
Described by his jockey Ryan Moore as having "an up and down year" the Deep Impact colt who won an Epsom Derby and an Irish Derby, but flopped in both the Qipco 2,000 Guineas and when last seen in the King George (at Ascot), was the subject of very positive gallop reports from Aidan O'Brien.
He went off 11/4 favourite in a mouth-watering renewal of this €1,250,000 feature over 10 furlongs.
His stablemates, Luxembourg and Point Lonsdale were at the forefront of the action racing to the final half mile with Auguste Rodin seemingly on good terms with himself a couple of lengths away in third.
Moore confidently moved him into second, on the bridle, behind Luxembourg rounding the home bend and asked him to go after the leader inside the final quarter of a mile.
He grabbed Luxembourg just over a furlong from home and he was driven out to account for Luxembourg (4/1) by half a length. John and Thady Gosden's Nashwa put in good late work for a closing third at 9/2.
Moore said: "It was very straightforward.
"Aidan has done everything and he has done it probably five, six or seven times.
"He (Auguste Rodin) has obviously had an up and down year but, when he has turned up, he has been very good.
"He's just the most beautiful-moving horse and he was in a real good place today.
"The reality is probably going from a Derby to an Irish Derby and then a King George, not many horses can do it. Maybe he wasn't in the right place that day (in the King George), but he has beaten a real good lineup here.
"I'm delighted, I'm really happy. He has proved today that he is a very good horse beating the older ones.
"He has just always shown so much right from the start. I'm just delighted that everyone at Ballydoyle was able to get him back and show him at his best today.
"Nice ground is important to him and he just floated around here, he's a beautifully balanced horse. He just did everything perfectly.
"To come back and do it again, there is a lot of satisfaction in that."
Aidan O'Brien said: “I have to thank Michael (Tabor) for having the confidence in everybody to relax and calm down and come back. Ryan gave him an incredible ride.
“We're so grateful to so many of the team that made it happen. He was always a brilliant horse, all the way along, from the first day he worked. He travels like a dream and has an awful lot of natural speed. He's a little bit lazy when he gets there.
“A couple of times this year it just all went totally wrong. All the ducks went against him, you usually want them all to go with you, but it all went against him.
“In Ascot before all went completely wrong, Ryan took him out of the race so he did no mental or physical damage to him. He came out of the race so well.
“He's a dream horse really, he travels and quickens and he's a little bit lazy when he gets there.”
On why he ran so poorly at Ascot he added: “I suppose everything went wrong. The ground went against him, he was drawn wide, we turned it into a Leger and he's a horse that's all class, we flew.
“There was so many reasons that it could go wrong and, if even half of those changed the other way, we knew we had a big shout today.
“He went by boat to Epsom and that was one of the common denominators that weren't stacking up, the flying.
“Maybe if he flies again he needs to go with a little bit of time, and a little bit of time to get over it.
“He's a very brilliant horse, very tough and very hardy but he's a little bit peculiar. Anne-Marie was watching him in the stable and if something is happening in his environment he stays awake all night and doesn't sleep.
“He's probably a very sensitive horse and takes in everything.
“The lads never panicked in any way. Everyone knows what he's worth and how important he is to breed and it was very easy to say 'that's the end' but they never did. Michael always says he wants to race.
“We always talk to Michael, Derek (Smith), John (Magnier) and Georg (Von Opel) after a week or ten days, but I know the lads love the Breeders' Cup and there is probably a good chance he'll go there. That is very possible.
“I'd say it would be for the Turf, I'd be afraid of the dirt just in case anything happened.”
Michael Tabor said: "In the paddock Aidan was very confident and it surprised me how confident he was. As usual he's full of praise for everyone else, but he's the man. He's produced the animal to perfection on the day.
“It's so difficult because when you see a horse run so poorly like that and then you speak to Aidan afterwards and he's still full of confidence, and he seems to know the reasons why the horse perhaps ran badly.
“As you can see, he just brings them back to their best and we all have off days.
“We always knew from Aidan that this horse had that special brilliance. He kept saying it and, if he says it, you have to believe it and the horse has shown it.
“Everything is possible with him now. Obviously Derek, John, Georg and myself will discuss it with Aidan going forward and the world is his oyster so to speak.
“As John Magnier reminds me, we aren't getting any younger so we want to enjoy the horses as much as anyone else.
“If the horse tells Aidan that he's in good condition, as he has been today, I would think we'll carry on.
“The Breeders' Cup has always been very special to us and if the horse is right I see no reason why he wouldn't go but maybe Derek, John and George will have a different view but I'm hoping they'll agree with yer man and myself!”
Auguste Rodin brought up a double for O'Brien and Moore on day one of Irish Champions Festival as they also landed the Group 2 KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes with Diego Velazquez
Paddy Power cut Auguste Rodin from 6/1 to 7/2 favourite for the Champion Stakes at Ascot and halved him from 20/1 to 10/1 for the Arc.
Additional reporting by Gary Carson