Jack’s the lad for Curragh punters

Epsom runner-up Jack Hobbs remains a strong favourite to go one better in the 150th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby after a field of eight was declared for the Curragh showpiece tomorrow.

Jack’s the lad for Curragh punters

He finished well ahead of four of this weekend’s rivals – Storm The Stars, Giovanni Canaletto, Kilimanjaro and Carbon Dating – in the Investec Derby and is expected to confirm the form.

The John Gosden-trained colt is 4-5 with Paddy Power and Ladbrokes, with William Hill going 8-11.

Jack Hobbs has come a long way since winning a Wolverhampton maiden in late December, making a stunning reappearance in a Sandown handicap before finding only stable companion Golden Horn too strong in the Dante at York.

The two did battle once more at Epsom and while Golden Horn confirmed his superiority, the Godolphin-owned Jack Hobbs was comfortably best of the rest.

Ryan Moore has chosen to partner Highland Reel, the French Derby runner-up, from four Aidan O’Brien-trained horses.

The trainer’s son, Joseph, will be aboard Giovanni Canaletto, with Seamie Heffernan on Kilimanjaro and Colm O’Donoghue keeping the ride on Investec Oaks winner Qualify.

O’Brien has trained a record 11 previous winners of the Curragh Classic, including Galileo (2001), High Chaparral (2002), Camelot (2012) and last year’s dual Derby winner Australia.

Paul Hensey, the Curragh’s general manager reported the ground to be good to firm on yesterday afternoon ahead of the three-day Festival that starts tonight. It is possible the taps could be turned again before tomorrow evening’s fixture but that will depend on how much rain falls on the County Kildare track overnight.

“The ground is good to firm at the moment. We continued to water through the day and I suspect we will water again on Friday, probably the Derby track again on fresh ground for Saturday,” he said.

“We are expecting some rain overnight, maybe five millimetres, so we will evaluate the whole situation in the morning and see how much more we need to do.It’s not been that warm but we’ve had a dry period for the last few weeks so we’ve just been putting some water on the track to make sure we keep some moisture and it’s paid dividends.

“The weather is forecast to be dry on Friday and Saturday, slightly overcast maybe temperatures of 15C and 16C.

“There could be some rain overnight on Saturday, maybe five to 10 millimetres. That would be perfect if it came.”

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