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Irish Derby: Mojo Star out to conquer Curragh for Hannon

Fri 25 Jun 2021

Richard Hannon’s Mojo Star almost caused a seismic upset at Epsom, and heads to the Curragh this weekend with major claims in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Sent off a 50-1 chance as a two-race maiden on the first Saturday in June, Mojo Star beat all bar Charlie Appleby’s Adayar, himself among the outsiders.

Punters will see nothing like those odds this time, with Mojo Star the general second-favourite behind Aidan O’Brien’s High Definition, and Hannon is expecting another bold display.

“He was always a very laid-back horse. I thought he was a nice horse, but didn’t know he was a very good horse,” said Hannon.

“You could have blown me over with a feather when he was beaten at Newbury earlier this season. I managed to get both him and Snow Lantern beaten on the same day – and I thought ‘this is going to be a long year’.

“In hindsight, he’s a very big horse and he’s grown. It was a bit of a leap of faith putting him in the Derby – but as soon as he pulled up at Newbury, I thought he was a Derby horse if I’d ever seen one.”

Mojo Star duly proved the point – but Adayar shot up the rails, and was not for catching.

“The winner had a beautiful run round, full credit to (winning jockey) Adam Kirby,” said Hannon.

“We got a bit held up on Tattenham Corner – we were travelling very well, and the ground he was making at the line was very pleasing.

“I think this track will suit him a lot more. I was delighted with second – and he was a running-on second.

“It would be a right up there (with the best days of my career). We’re hardly synonymous with Derby horses. I remember one year at school my dad had the favourite and second-favourite – and they were last and second-last!

“I was fifth a few years ago with Humphrey Bogart, and second with this lad.

“I used to go to (the Irish Derby) with a few mates from Ireland as a kid. We took Alriffa one year (1994, fourth), and he wasn’t good enough, but to have one with a chance is great.”

Mojo Star was ridden by by David Egan at Epsom – but having recovered from injury, Rossa Ryan will resume his partnership in his role as retained rider for owners Amo Racing.

Hannon is full of praise for the rider, who is making a big name for himself.

“I think Rossa is the real deal,” he said. “He came along quite quickly and is very ambitious. A lot of apprentices can rattle through their apprenticeships and not get the experience which is needed – but he is very meticulous and detailed and he’s riding really well. I’m glad he’s back to ride him.

“I think the youngsters have a self-belief. Like footballers, they have this self-belief because they are very talented – and if they are riding good horses it all helps.”

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