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J A McGrath
Trainer John Gosden will walk the entire course prior to Saturday's Investec Derby to ensure the ground at Epsom is not too quick for Godolphin hope Jack Hobbs.

Trainer John Gosden will walk the entire course prior to Saturday's Investec Derby to ensure the ground at Epsom is not too quick for Godolphin hope Jack Hobbs.

Showers are forecast which will largely curtail watering, and in the event they don't arrive, there is every likelihood the ground will have dried up.

"The race is at 4.30pm, and if it is sunny and breezy, I would be concerned. I will walk the track beforehand.

"Godolphin and the other partners are aware that I will be doing that.

"Jack Hobbs is a grand, scopey, rangey individual, who should improve with age. The Derby comes soon enough for him.

"He is a talented individual, who I hope will be racing at four and five.

"I think he learnt a lot at Epsom at Breakfast With The Stars and I was very happy with his work at the weekend," the trainer added.

Despite concern about the ground, there is growing confidence that Jack Hobbs can become the first to win the Derby in the Godolphin royal blue colours.

The constant speculation over which colt will stay the mile-and-a-half trip, last-minute injury worries, plus top jockeys waiting to declare their hand, have all combined to make this a Derby with more strands of intrigue than normal.

Two weeks ago, some pundits were arguing this was a lack-lustre Derby. But, not now.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed has already been directly involved in Derby triumph at Epsom.

In 1995, the brilliant but head-strong Lammtarra won the most famous Flat race in the world, trained by Godolphin's Saeed bin Suroor and carrying the colours of Sheikh Saeed bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, a nephew.

In 2008, it was the turn of another outstanding colt with Maktoum connections, the Jim Bolger-trained New Approach, who carried the colours of HRH Princess Haya of Jordan, Sheikh Mohammed's wife.

But since the creation of Godolphin over two decades ago, the famous royal blue silks have not been in the Epsom winner's circle following a Derby. There is optimism, however, that Jack Hobbs could be the colt to turn the tide.

Jack Hobbs has leap-frogged his way to the top table. He won his maiden at Wolverhampton, hacked up in a handicap by 12 lengths at Sandown, then went straight into the Dante Stakes at York, where he finished a good second to Golden Horn.

Talk about fast-tracking; this Halling colt, bred by Willie Carson, is a big strong individual, who is learning the game at incredible speed. Frankie Dettori rode him at York, but Godolphin jockey William Buick, who was on the winner Golden Horn that day, gets the mount as Godolphin subsequently bought into the colt.

Dettori now finds himself on the favourite Golden Horn, but he freely admits: "I'm scared of Jack Hobbs" and has since reported that, in his view, Golden Horn is thriving.

The scene is set for an interesting battle.

While Jack Hobbs may be a big improver from the Dante, so, too, should be Elm Park, who ran out of steam a furlong and a half out that day at York, though he may have problems in negotiating Tattenham Hill.

Hans Holbein may prove best of the three Ballydoyle runners despite Ryan Moore plumping for Giovanni Canaletto.

Derby Preview