Thursday 23 November 2017

Jack Hobbs deserves his very short price for Curragh Classic

Epsom runner-up Jack Hobbs, here with William Buick
Epsom runner-up Jack Hobbs, here with William Buick

Wayne Bailey

IT'S only when you try to explain horseracing to someone who hasn't had a bet in their life that you realise just how complicated this whole business can be.

Last week, I had some of the missus' family over from Canada and having brought them to a couple of race meetings in Ireland, I think they've gone home even more confused - especially when it comes to ratings and the handicap system.

Lucky enough, Royal Ascot was on across the water and they managed to pick a few winners in the Group races which they found a lot easier to understand. All told, they had a great experience of racing and betting although it's unfortunate that they won't be around to take in the Irish Derby, which looks a relatively straightforward affair this evening at the Curragh (6.30).

Eight horses go to post for the 150th renewal of the Irish Classic and, as most readers will know, Aidan O'Brien has completely dominated the race, winning eight of the last nine. The last raider to win was André Fabre's Hurricane Run and if the betting is anything to go by, the prize money is set to go abroad again a decade on with Epsom Derby runner-up Jack Hobbs chalked up around 8/11 in the early markets.

Having beaten a number of today's runners in that race, John Gosden's colt is very difficult to oppose and at the risk of being labelled totally unoriginal, I'm going to say his odds-on price is justified. For me, he's definitely a max bet although I can understand how some would be reluctant to play at that price considering O'Brien's ability to find the right horse for this race time after time.

At one stage, Jack Hobbs actually looked like winning at Epsom and traded as low as 1/4 in-running but stablemate Golden Horn had that special turn of foot and is probably one of the better Derby horses we've seen in the last few years.

Of the Ballydoyle contingent, Ryan Moore has chosen Highland Reel which was a decent second last time in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly. He's surely got more to come but not as much, I suspect, as Jack Hobbs and Moore's mount will probably have to settle for minor honours today at 5/1.

Storm The Stars, which was third at Epsom, also deserves a mention and looks set to go off in the region of 7/1. A son of the great Sea The Stars, William Haggas' charge just couldn't kick on when it mattered but he was staying on very well at the end and it's no surprise to see him prominent in betting for the St Leger in September, with a longer trip more likely to bring out the best in him.

The lads down the local always give me an awful time when I tip an odds-on shot as my main bet of the day so I must be sure to give a mention to Danzeno, which is expected to go off around 7/4 in the Group Three Betfred Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle (2.0). Now aged four, he won this race last year when rated 101 but he's come on in leaps and bounds since and now has a rating of 115. It's interesting to see that Michael Appleby has entered the colt in a couple of big races later on this season including a Group One, and his latest effort when fourth in the Group Two Temple Stakes is overlooked as he was in need of a run.


The Eric Alston-trained Blithe Spirit usually races prominently, and a nice inside draw in stall two can see her take control of the Technical Demolition Services Ltd Handicap at Chester (2.30).

She's been a little disappointing in her latest couple of starts but the handicapper has eased her mark to 88. When you combine that with jockey Neil Farley's 3lb claim, I'm almost certain we'll see a big improvement. Take her each-way at 10/1.

Today's selections

2.0 Newcastle: Danzeno

2.30 Chester: Blithe Spirit (e/w)

3.25 Newmarket: Wannabe Yours

4.15 Chester: English Summer

5.50 Curragh: Log Out Island

6.30 Curragh: Jack Hobbs

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