Aidan O’Brien’s Derby hopes take a knock but don’t write him off yet

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With so much ammo at his disposal, it is always a strong possibility that one or two of Aidan O’Brien’s army fails to deliver on the promise they once hinted at.

However, plenty will be ruing taking the 4/1 about former Derby favourite John F Kennedy, after a lacklustre showing in the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Sent off a 1/4 favourite for the contest, Ryan Moore reported that his mount was never happy on the soft ground, with the odds-on jolly coming home last of the trio.

Bookmakers were quick to react to the defeat, Ladbrokes pushing out the son of Galileo to 10/1.

The Epsom showpiece will still be on his radar, but this one of Ballydoyle’s charges will need to show more on the undulations of the Downs.

Another O’Brien fancy to bite the dust this weekend was Jamaica.

Plenty of support had come in for the horse for the same Classic in June, so it may have been somewhat of a surprise to see him line up in a 2000 Guineas Trial.

In the end, the outcome was predictable; Moore’s mount simply being outpaced as the field pulled away, with Zawraq (10/1 from 25/1 for the Derby) the very impressive winner.

That defeat means he is now just one from four in his short career, and saw him out to 16/1 from 12/1 for a Derby triumph.

But do those losses spell the end for John F Kennedy and Jamaica’s Epsom credentials?

Looking back at previous winners you would have to say that is a fairly confident ‘no’.

Just half of the last 10 Derby winners won on reappearance, three of those finding the pace of the 2000 Guineas over a mile too sharp on their first start of the season.

Although Jamaica wasn’t taking in the event itself, it’s likely there is further progress over a truer test of his stamina.

Supporters of JFK meanwhile will need to be hoping that the ground and the small field were all that caught him out in Dublin if he is to spark back into life in June.

However with the ground likely to be more solid in the summer sun (hopefully), and his handler’s knack of taking the 1m4f showpiece, that 10/1 could look a very tasty price in time.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.