Young Rascal leaves William Haggas hopeful of second Derby win

Young Rascal and James Doyle, left, exercise with a stable companion during the Derby Breakfast with the Stars event (Picture: PA).Young Rascal and James Doyle, left, exercise with a stable companion during the Derby Breakfast with the Stars event (Picture: PA).
Young Rascal and James Doyle, left, exercise with a stable companion during the Derby Breakfast with the Stars event (Picture: PA).
IT IS more than two decades since William Haggas won the Epsom Derby at the first attempt, with Shaamit prevailing back in 1996.

However, the Skipton-born trainer hopes the rapidly improving Young Rascal could provide him with a second winner of the blue riband race.

Though Aidan O’Brien’s 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior is a hot favourite, Haggas was more than happy with his colt after an exercise gallop yesterday as part of Epsom’s now annual ‘Breakfast with the Stars’ event.

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Victorious in the Chester Vase earlier this month over the equally exciting Dee Ex Bee, who is set to represent Middleham’s Mark Johnston in the Derby on June 2, Young Rascal and jockey James Doyle pulled clear of stablemate Original Choice in the final furlong under the trainer’s watchful eye.

Haggas, whose father-in-law Lester Piggott rode nine Derby winners during his legendary career, commented: “They barely went a half-speed coming down the hill, but quickened up for the last two and a half furlongs.

“I’m very pleased and I’m not sure if Young Rascal could have done that six weeks ago.

“They went a good enough gallop and he handled the contours well. James was very happy with him.

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“I wanted the horse to come and have a look at Epsom Downs. We had a walk around the paddock. It is beautiful ground so we had an opportunity to get him on the grass whereas we have not had the chance to do so in Newmarket this year.

“This was a great opportunity for him to come to Epsom Downs, for James to get a feel of the contours and for the horse to experience the contours.

“This horse is different to Shaamit as they are built differently and Shaamit hadn’t run as a three-year-old before the Derby.

“Young Rascal has had plenty of experience and he is fully entitled to have a go at the Derby. I’m sure he will run okay, but whether he can win is a whole different matter.

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“I can only get the horse to the race in the best condition I can and, at the moment, things are going very well.

“It was important to bring this horse [yesterday] and I’m very pleased we did.”

There is an added incentive for Haggas to run Young Rascal – his owner Bernard Kantor is managing director of race sponsors Investec.

The trainer, who could also run Al Muffrih in the big race, is also due to run Give And Take, winner of York’s Musidora Stakes last week, in the Epsom Oaks.

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Earlier John Gosden confirmed that Roaring Lion, a runaway winner of York’s Dante Stakes under Oisin Murphy, is Derby-bound.

The grey was narrowly beaten by Saxon Warrior in last season’s Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.

Though Roaring Lion could only finish fifth to Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas, he appears, on the basis of the York run, capable of stepping up to the Derby trip of a mile and a half.

“I just like to see how horses are after a race before making grandiose plans. We are thrilled with the horse after the Dante, he ate up and I had to put someone on him for a trot as he was playing so much,” said Gosden.

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“Roaring Lion is in splendid form and the owner is very keen that he goes for the Derby, so that is exactly where he is going and I think that’s the right choice.

“He paid a compliment to Saxon Warrior in the Dante. In a thoroughbred, you need speed – you don’t win a Derby normally by outstaying them at one pace. You need a turn of foot and this horse has it.

“Will he stay the mile and a half? I don’t know. The Derby usually sorts out the non-stayers.”

Elarqam is one of 14 possible runners in the Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday. The Frankel colt finished an honourable fourth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and is now set to cross the Irish Sea for the Mark Johnston operation.