Jack Hobbs stormed to victory in the Irish Derby, completing a wonderful double for trainer John Gosden after Golden Horn’s success at Epsom.
The result rarely looked in doubt as the favourite travelled powerfully throughout before taking up the running from pacesetter Storm The Stars just inside the two furlong marker. He pulled clear to win by five lengths, with Haggas’ colt comfortably second ahead of Giovanni Canaletto, the best of O’Brien’s entries.
The winner’s jockey William Buick was understandably thrilled after the race, saying: “He was fantastic and is a great horse. I had a lot of belief in him before Epsom and he was even better today. He's improving all the time and it's fantastic to win an Irish Derby. He's been handled brilliantly by John. He's a late-maturing horse, but has improved with every run. He's a serious horse.”
Gosden suggested the Prix Niel in Longchamp was the likely next outing for the huge son of Halling, before a shot at the Arc in October. There was certainly no mention of a trip to Doncaster for the St Leger as some thought likely. “He'll be better at four because he's quite light framed and needs to fill out,” explained Gosden. “I loved the way he finished his race out. It's solid Epsom form and William waited with him, which was the right thing.”
Godolphin has sent a Halling offspring on a similar end of season campaign in the past. Andre Fabre trained three-year-old Cavalryman to win the 2009 Prix Niel for connections before a mighty third place finish in the Arc behind Sea The Stars. Stepped up in trip later in his career, he proved to have an abundance of stamina to match his class when taking the Goodwood Cup in 2014.
Stamina is often a trait when Halling forms part of the pedigree. Opinion Poll was another top-class stayer to carry the famous Godolphin silks. He finished second in two Ascot Gold Cups whilst winning the Goodwood Cup and twice taking the Lonsdale Cup at York.
Just over a week ago, Kingfisher was unfortunate not to win the Ascot Gold Cup. Suffering interference in running he was unable to peg-back Trip To Paris. It proved to be a rare miss for jockey Ryan Moore. Ballydoyle’s colt is out of the Halling mare Mystical Lady and looks sure to make his mark in top-class staying events over the coming years.
I’m uncertain as to whether Jack Hobbs has the raw speed to win an Arc. There’s no doubt he’s a powerful unit and a relentless galloper. A trip is no longer a concern and in time he could well make his name as an outstanding stayer. But for now Gosden has his sights set on dominating European middle distance events. He certainly has the ammunition.