John Gosden gunning for Irish Derby first with Jack Hobbs

John Gosden expects the demands of the Curragh to bring out the best in Jack Hobbs in the 150th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby today.

John Gosden gunning for Irish Derby first with Jack Hobbs

Six months to the day since making a winning debut in a Saturday night maiden under the Wolverhampton floodlights, the imposing son of Halling will be the hot favourite to provide the Newmarket trainer with a first victory in Ireland’s premier Classic.

It has been a rapid ascent for the three-year-old, whose remarkably facile comeback victory in handicap company at Sandown marked him down as a potential star.

He subsequently found stable companion Golden Horn too hot to handle in the Dante at York and it was the same story in the Investec Derby at Epsom, but with his old rival safely tucked up in his box, Jack Hobbs looks to have an excellent opportunity to enjoy his day in the sun.

Gosden said: “He’s a tall, rangy horse and he’ll be having a nice break after this until the autumn as I wouldn’t want to race him on through the summer. I think a galloping track like the Curragh should suit him well.

“I’m very happy with him, he worked last Saturday and I was very happy, he worked with a lead horse and Robert Havlin rode him, he was nicely clear on the bridle at the end.

“He took Epsom very well, he ate up and all of that, he’s a big boy. We fully respect the quality of the field, which includes an Oaks winner (Qualify), but it’s not a race I got greatly involved with in the past, so it would be extremely nice to win.”

Jack Hobbs is reopposed by four horses who finished behind him at Epsom, including the third, Storm The Stars.

The Sea The Stars colt has four and a half lengths to make up with the Gosden runner and trainer William Haggas admits it looks a tough ask.

“The horse is very well and we came to the conclusion if we didn’t run he couldn’t win,” said Haggas.

“John’s horse looked marvellous before the Derby at Epsom and ran a pretty good race, so he’ll be hard to beat.

“Then you have an Oaks winner, a few more of Aidan’s and an unbeaten horse of Dermot Weld’s (Radanpour), so it’s not going to be straightforward, but then it is an Irish Derby.

“I think they’re going to have a bit of rain, but not much, and a good friend of mine who walked the course tells me it’s pretty firm.

“We wouldn’t mind a bit of rain, but I think the horse most inconvenienced by fast ground would be John’s. That’s pretty well publicised, I think.

“We’re entitled to be there, so we’ll give it a go and see what happens.”

Qualify, a shock 50-1 winner at Epsom, is one of four runners for Aidan O’Brien as he chases an astonishing 12th Irish Derby success.

The number one hope on jockey bookings appears to be French Derby runner-up Highland Reel, with Ryan Moore riding on the crest of a wave following his astonishing week at Royal Ascot.

Colm O’Donoghue keeps the ride on Qualify, while Epsom Derby fourth and sixth, Giovanni Canaletto and Kilimanjaro, are partnered by Joseph O’Brien and Seamie Heffernan respectively. O’Brien said: “Highland Reel will step up another quarter of a mile but we were happy with him in France last time and we’ve been happy with him since.

“We always thought she (Qualify) was a really nice filly and we always knew the minute she went beyond a mile, there was the possibility she would really step up and Epsom was the first time she went beyond a mile. We were obviously delighted with that and look forward to Saturday.

“Giovanni Canaletto is in good form.

“We felt Epsom was maybe coming a little too quick for him, but he came out of the race well and we look forward to seeing him run again on Saturday.

“Kilimanjaro ran a nice race at Epsom and the Curragh might suit him better than Epsom.”

The unbeaten Radanpour takes a big step up in class after winning each of his three starts this season, completing the hat-trick in Leopardstown’s King George V Cup at Listed level three weeks ago.

Big-race jockey Pat Smullen said: “He’d probably want a drop of rain and hopefully they’ll keep plenty of water on as he just wants a bit of ease in the ground.

“It’s definitely a big step up for him, but he’s been very consistent and deserves to take his chance.

“It’s an open race, but if the favourite turns up with his run from Epsom, he’ll be hard to beat. We’re all hoping for a good run, but on the figures Radanpour has to improve a lot.”

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