William Buick remains hopeful Jack Hobbs can at least close the gap on stable companion Golden Horn in the Investec Derby at Epsom on Saturday.
Buick steered Golden Horn to an ultimately emphatic success in the Dante Stakes at York last month, with Jack Hobbs filling the runner-up spot in the hands of Frankie Dettori.
With Jack Hobbs having subsequently been snapped up by Buick’s retaining owners Godolphin, the two riders switch places this weekend and Buick believes the step up in distance could help his mount turn the form around.
“I was very happy with Jack Hobbs at Epsom the other day at Breakfast With The Stars,” said Buick.
“He’s a lovely horse, a lovely individual and I thought he handled the track pretty well.
“I’m very aware that Golden Horn is the main danger, but if I was riding Golden Horn, I would also say Jack Hobbs was the main danger.
“You’ve got to remember it’s come very thick and fast for him (Jack Hobbs). He won his maiden in the winter at Wolverhampton, went to Sandown and then to the Dante, so it’s all happened very quick.
“He could just be a horse (with whom) the penny is just dropping.”
Andrew Balding’s Dante third Elm Park is also set to renew rivalries with the John Gosden-trained duo. The son of Phoenix Reach notably changed his legs on a number of occasions when working at Epsom last week, but Balding is not overly concerned.
He said: “I couldn’t be happier with his well being. He changed his legs a lot in the gallop, there’s no question, but it didn’t seem to affect his momentum. If you look at his races, certainly in the Royal Lodge, he must have changed his legs 16 times and still found another gear at the end of it.
“What will be will be. If he doesn’t handle the track he won’t win the Derby, it’s as simple as that.
“He’s in fine form. His work has been really good, he’s in good physical condition and we’re really looking forward to it.”
The well-fancied Zawraq, meanwhile, is reported to have made “substantial improvement” in his race against time to be fit for Saturday’s Blue Riban.
Dermot Weld’s unbeaten colt is among the leading fancies for the premier Classic, but after completing a satisfactory piece of work on Tuesday morning, he was found to have been slightly lame upon his return to the yard.
Initial X-rays and scans suggested the injury was not serious and his leg has been iced during the last 24 hours.
Zawrag engaged in light exercise yesterday morning, although any decision on his Derby participation is unlikely to made until Thursday at the earliest.