Auguste Rodin eases to victory in Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes at Doncaster

Auguste Rodin lived up to the hype with a smooth victory in the Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes at Doncaster, while Pied Piper emerged victorious in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The Deep Impact colt was a Group Two winner last time when landing the Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown and comfortably made the step up to Group One level.

Partnered by Ryan Moore, the son of Group One-winner Rhododendron was in a trio of runners on the stands side rail and breezed into the lead to defeat Epictetus as the 9-4 favourite.

Pied Piper, meanwhile, gained revenge on old rival Knight Salute at Cheltenham.

The two horses met in the Anniversary 4-y-o Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree in April and could not be separated as the race was declared a dead heat.

However, Knight Salute, trained by Milton Harris, was subsequently awarded the race in the stewards' room as his opponent was deemed to have caused interference on the run to the line.

On this occasion there were no such fine margins as the Gordon Elliott-trained Pied Piper strode to a two-and-three-quarter-length triumph under Jack Kennedy as the 5-6 favourite.

Knight Salute was the runner-up at 9-2, just outperforming Joseph O'Brien's Bella Scintilla by a head.

Elliott said: "We were looking forward to a bit of improvement coming over here and we thought it was a nice race to start him off in. Jack gave him a lovely ride and it worked out well.

"He won well and has got a lot stronger since last year. I loved the way he put his head down and galloped to the line. I'm very happy.

"He is a nice horse. We are going to dream for a while (of the Champion Hurdle), but it is a hot division and he is going to have to keep improving.

"We will go to Down Royal for the WKD in two weeks and on to Christmas, all being well, from there.

"He'll be trained like a Champion Hurdle horse, but it is a very, very hot division and he's going to have to improve, but if you're not in, you can't win."

Betfair clipped Pied Piper from 20-1 to 14s for the Champion Hurdle back at Cheltenham in March.

Elliott continued: "If you look at the way he jumps his hurdles, he is going to be a chaser down the road - he's one to look forward to.

"We bought him at the Horses In Training Sale last year and he's getting stronger every day. There's a big Flat handicap in him as well, you know?

"I would imagine we will keep him over timber this season.

"He is way stronger than he was last season. With those juveniles, that is what you want - a bit of scope. If he keeps going the way he is going, we'll be happy."

Harris offered no excuses in defeat for Knight Salute.

He said: "Nature of the beast, isn't it?

"It is sport. There'll be another day. I wouldn't shy away from him again. He ran a good race. I'd love to offer an excuse, but I don't have one. He hasn't let us down."

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