William Buick’s cruise as Jack Hobbs trimmed for Arc

In the end it was all very logical. 

William Buick’s cruise as Jack Hobbs trimmed for Arc

The second, third and fourth in the English Derby filled the first three positions in the same order in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh on Saturday with Jack Hobbs emphatically justifying 10/11 favouritism.

In doing so he stepped out of the shadow of stable-mate Golden Horn who had put him to the sword in both the Dante at York and at Epsom.

Jack Hobbs thus became the first British-trained winner of the Irish Derby in over 20 years.

It was an occasion to savour for John Gosden as his first success in this race saw him become the first trainer to win the English and Irish Derby in the same year with different horses.

Those little bits of history were apt in this the 150th running of the Irish Derby. In years to come Jack Hobbs may not be spoken of with quite the same reverence reserved for past greats like Galileo, Montjeu, St Jovite, Shergar, The Minstrel or Nijinsky but the authoritative nature of his triumph suggested he deserves to be ranked as one of the better winners of recent years.

Jack Hobbs stood out in the parade ring beforehand and never gave his supporters a moment’s concern throughout the race.

The son of Halling was settled in third behind fellow British raider Storm The Stars and Giovanni Canaletto off a sedate pace early on and William Buick waited until the final furlong and a half to push the button.

When he did the response was immediate and Jack Hobbs finished five lengths clear of Storm The Stars with the toiling Giovanni Canaletto, the best of the Ballydoyle quartet, a further five and a half lengths back.

Buick was as assured post-race as he had been during it.

“It was my race to lose,” he said. “That was obvious. He was the best horse in the race, he’d beaten most of them at Epsom so all we needed was an uninterrupted passage and to do what was best for the horse and it worked out well. He has a serious turn of foot.”

Gosden, understandably, was thrilled to see the Epsom form held up so well and paid tribute to Buick’s patience.

“It was a great performance, solid Epsom form,” he said. “I thought the second ran a lovely race, he fought all the way to the line. I thought William rode a great race sitting in that spot. There’s always a risk of getting held in by some pals from Tipperary but I was delighted he got a lovely gap and the cool thing he did was then to wait.

“The mistake at the Curragh is to kick too soon and then you find out it’s a stiff old track. But I thought he rode a lovely race. He might be on the best horse but he could easily have blown it and gone too soon but he didn’t. I was delighted with horse and jockey.”

Bookies were similarly impressed with Paddy Power trimming Jack Hobbs from 12/1 to 8/1 for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, a race Gosden confirmed will be the colt’s end-of-season target.

“He needs a little holiday now to freshen up. I’d like to take him – all being well - to Longchamp for the Prix Niel and then the Arc. Two more runs this year and if the ground’s not suitable for the Prix Niel we’ll wait until the Arc. I’d love to run him in the Arc this year with the three-year-old weight allowance.”

Beyond the Arc, Gosden spoke with enthusiasm about what Jack Hobbs might achieve next year and the year after.

“I’m really looking forward to racing him at four and five. That’s always what we wanted. He’s bred like his father to get better with age. He was never a rush off to stud job. He’s got a lot of improvement in him.”

Gosden has a genuine affinity with Ireland that dates back to his time spent working with the original master of Ballydoyle, Vincent O’Brien, in the 70s.

Victory here meant plenty.

“It’s a great feeling to finally win this race. I’ve always loved racing in Ireland from my days at Ballydoyle back in the 70s and winning it with The Minstrel. I’ve got a lot of happy memories and a lot of good friends here. It’s always a bit like coming home.

“I should have won it once with Presenting but he got hurt on the plane and we had to take him off. We were unlucky that time but we never really had anything in this class to be here.”

Buick echoed Gosden’s thoughts on the possibility of the future being even better than the present.

“I’m really pleased with the way this horse does things,” the Godolphin jockey said. “I got after him out the gate just to get a position and he came good in the straight, pulled away nicely and when he hit the front he’s still learning. He’s looking around and he still won by a big margin so he’s a very exciting horse.

“He’s had to cope with racing at the highest level pretty quick and he’s dealt with it pretty well but I do think he’ll improve with time.”

As for the Irish Derby the future looks a little better than it did 12 months ago when Australia led home a field home four opponents to secure an eighth victory in nine years for Aidan O’Brien. The new ‘win and you’re in’ incentive associated with certain races in the build-up helped boost the field, while the sight of a rare British winner brought some much-needed variety.

Time will tell if this is an encouraging step or a temporary reprieve but the 150th Irish Derby will be remembered as one that befitted such a landmark occasion.

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