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O'Brien is on special mission to Reel in the jackpot

By Staff Reporter

Aidan O'Brien declared the track at the Curragh in "beautiful condition" as he prepares to take on Investec Derby runner-up Jack Hobbs with a four-pronged attack on the 150th Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby today.

Qualify, a shock 50-1 winner of the Oaks at Epsom, is part of the O'Brien team as he chases an astonishing 12th success in the showpiece mile-and-a-half event.

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, who has won eight of the last nine runnings, said yesterday: "I walked the full mile and a half of the Derby track and it is in beautiful condition. They have done a good job.

"All four horses are in good form, and it will be interesting to see how Highland Reel gets on stepping up in distance. I think he'll get the trip.

"The race at Epsom probably came a bit too quick for Giovanni Canaletto, while Kilimanjaro has come forward well and I think a small field will suit him better.

"Qualify is the interesting one. Colm gave her a lovely ride in the Oaks, and the last furlong she came home very strong. The Curragh will suit her."

John Gosden expects the demands of the Curragh to bring out the best in Jack Hobbs, although he would like sufficient ease in the ground for his runner, who is the 4-5 favourite.

He said: "We respect the quality of the field, which includes an Oaks winner, but it's not a race I got greatly involved with in the past, so it would be nice to win."

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