William Haggas believes you need a fresh horse to compete in horse racing’s international winter prizes and in “reformed character” Young Rascal he has just that.
Haggas is a patient man with a long-term approach, attributes which were most obvious in 2018 when he masterminded the campaign of rare talent Sea Of Class, having resisted running her at all as a juvenile. His skill at delivering a horse fresh for a big win was best illustrated when Shaamit took the 1996 G1 Derby at Epsom at his first start that season.
However, it might be argued that neither of those stars tested his patience as much as the talented, as yet unfulfilled, four-year-old Young Rascal, who has always competed for his trainer’s affections and will line up in a competitive renewal of the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) on Sunday.
Owned by Investec boss Bernard Kantor, Derby dreams were set alight after the colt’s taking G3 Chester Vase success in May 2018 when he beat top-class performers Dee Ex Bee, Hunting Horn and Ispolini. But he looked awkward at Epsom and could only manage seventh.
His trainer’s tolerance paid dividends when he returned to the racecourse that autumn with two narrow G3 victories at Newbury and the horse who had garnered much attention at Somerville Lodge stables was back on track and in the good books.
He was back to his old tricks at the start of this season though, finishing fifth of nine in the G3 John Porter Stakes at Newbury before an alarming sixth of seven in the G2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket forced connections to go back to the drawing board.