Ryan Moore played it down. As the questions came in, he looked at the table at which he was sitting and winced a little when his role in the race that had just unfolded was mentioned.
It was never going to be any other way. He’s never been comfortable with the idea he could overshadow the achievements of a horse, particularly when the horse is as good as Auguste Rodin; Moore adores this brilliant colt and has done so ever since he first sat on him in February 2022.
But, as much as he would have liked the spotlight shining elsewhere, it had to be on him. The $4million Breeders’ Cup Turf was the outstanding race of this spectacular meeting, a clash featuring Mostahdaf and King Of Steel, and it was decided by Moore’s genius.
Auguste Rodin has moved beautifully all week, floating seamlessly around the bends, but it must have felt like he had been thrown onto a playground roundabout in the first three furlongs as his rivals rocked and rolled and bounced off each other.
Mostahdaf, a dual Group One winner this season, wanted to go a stride quicker than his partner Jim Crowley would allow and wasted some energy as he strained the reins; King Of Steel, so brave in winning the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Royal Ascot 14 days earlier, found things unfolding quickly.
Ryan Moore put in a genius display to guide Auguste Rodin to victory in Breeders’ Cup Turf
Aiden O’Brien’s horse saw off competition from Up To The Mark in the outstanding race of this meeting
Moore, 40, saw it all unfold in front of him but managed to get Auguste Rodin, named after a French sculptor, poised. They had a decent position, eight lengths off the pace, but up in the stands Aidan O’Brien was a little anxious about what he was seeing.
‘After three furlongs it had turned into havoc,’ O’Brien gasped.
The sight of his jockey, bobbing away in the blue-and-orange silks of owner Michael Tabor, immediately provided comfort.
‘But that’s the thing about Ryan,’ O’Brien continued. ‘He’s just so professional with everything that he sees, he never, ever panics. Ryan is a brilliant jockey but, more than anything, he loves horses – and, believe me, he really loves this horse.
‘I told him the other day that he won’t reach his peak until he’s 45 – seriously! He’s so totally professional. He does everything. When he comes over to work (at Coolmore in Ireland), he’s the first one in the gym before you. And, I promise you, he is getting better.’
O’Brien hailed Moore’s professionalism and dedication after his sensational victory
How does he get better than this? Auguste Rodin, who had won the English and Irish Derbies in mid-summer, had been prepared for this assignment after a thrilling performance in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in September.
It could have ended in bitter frustration – all it needed was for one of his rivals to roll the wrong way – but Moore knew Auguste Rodin’s capabilities. He is nimble and quick and he sped through the gap, around the rail, like a motorcyclist fizzing through a rush hour.
Once he burst through, it was all over. Up To The Mark, chased him to the line, with the Japanese contender Shahryar trying to give pursuit but the game was up. Moore, like a start striker popping up in the right place at the right time, had made the difference when it mattered.
‘Going through the race, what I did was plan F,’ he said, deflecting the praise; Moore has won this race before, twice on Conduit (2008 and 2009) and once on each on Magician (2013) and Found (2016). When he looks back on this, however, the kick will be a little different.’
‘Me? I’m just delighted that he has vindicated how good he is,’ Moore stressed. ‘He has beaten some proper horses here. This is a really top drawer horse.’
A top drawer horse that was given a quite superlative ride.