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 on Saturday.
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, with William Hill and Ladbrokes going 8-11.
Hayley O'Connor of Ladbrokes said: "Jack Hobbs is the only horse the punters want ahead of the race. We offered 4-5 for a short time, but saw enough cash to shorten him again from that price."
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.
"Jack Hobbs could be the answer to the 150th Irish Derby, although the in-form Ryan Moore is on Highland Reel who is the only other horse to be supported in the ante-post market," said William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke.
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, is delighted with the line-up.
"We've the second, third and fourth from Epsom, the second horse from the Prix du Jockey Club, the winner of the Epsom Oaks, the winner of the Lingfield Derby Trial and we've got an unbeaten Aga Khan horse (Radanpour) with Dermot Weld, so we've not done too bad," he said.
"It will be a terrific weekend and we're really looking forward to it."
Hensey reported the ground to be good to firm on Thursday afternoon ahead of the three-day Festival that starts on Friday.
It is possible the taps could be turned again before Friday 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."
The only withdrawal at the final declaration stage was Jim Bolger's Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Pleascach.