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Tests for star pair who fluffed lines

1 May 2016

Connections of Air Force Blue and Jack Hobbs mystified by poor runs

Connections of Air Force Blue and Jack Hobbs will this week seek answers as to why the star duo ran so poorly at Newmarket over the weekend.

The pair were expected to be stars of this year’s QIPCO British Champions Series but both have serious questions to answer after fluffing their lines within 40 minutes of each other on Saturday.

Jack Hobbs, runner-up in last year’s Derby before going one better in the Irish equivalent, was pulled up and dismounted by William Buick a furlong from home in the Jockey Club Stakes, having been sent off 8-15 favourite.

“Following Jack Hobbs’ run at Newmarket yesterday, John Gosden [his trainer] has confirmed that there was no obvious cause for his disappointing performance,” Godolphin’s chief executive and racing manager John Ferguson said on Sunday.

“I know that John will leave no stone unturned and extensive tests will be carried out in the next few days.”

Air Force Blue was last season’s outstanding two-year-old and, having reportedly had a flawless preparation, was sent off 4-5 favourite for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.

However, he never looked like getting in contention and beat one home in a race where the first three in the market filled the last three places behind superb winner Galileo Gold.

Aidan O’Brien, his trainer, said 24 hours later: “We found nothing untoward with Air Force Blue – not a thing – which kind of surprised me. His run was too bad to be true, or maybe he is not as good as we thought.”

Co-owner Michael Tabor, speaking after Minding’s dazzling triumph the QIPCO 1000 Guineas, added: “Yesterday was so disappointing. But racing can do that. Today, you come here and it fulfils all expectations. Sometimes it leaves you wondering about the game.”

Mark Johnston will no doubt share the same sentiment after Lumiere’s tame display in the 1000 Guineas. The trainer had been bullish in the build-up but she finished last of the 16 runners after forcing the early pace, being beaten too far out for the mile trip to be solely to blame.