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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Young Rascal states persuasive case to be crowned king of the castle at Epsom

Young Rascal (right) holds off Dee Ex Bee and is now as short as 10-1 to triumph at Epsom
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At least there should be no question over whether he's going to run – when you're owned by the Derby sponsor, you're decidedly unlikely to bypass Epsom.

And Investec co-founder Bernard Kantor could find himself emulating Ryanair Chase-winning owner Michael O'Leary and picking up his own prize on the first Saturday in June after his Young Rascal defied inexperience to land a gutsy victory in the MBNA Chester Vase.

The odds against that happening range from 16-1 (BoyleSports) to just 10-1 (bet365, Betway) second favourite as his colt stepped up from maiden company to score by half a length under James Doyle, stopped in his run and switched twice yet still able to nose in front in the final 150 yards.

Investec Derby card and betting

"He did well here because a few things went against him and he still managed to win," said trainer William Haggas. "You always wonder how strong these trials are but he's fully entitled to have a shot at Epsom. He's got a bit to offer.

"This isn't a straightforward track, especially for a green horse, yet he managed to overcome all those things, which makes you think that he's doing all right.

"It took me nearly four hours to get here, it's a painful journey from East Anglia but it will be a slightly less painful one on the way home."

Last Saturday's 2,000 Guineas hero Saxon Warrior has a stranglehold on the Epsom market – he is a best-priced evens, with no other horse in single figures – but Haggas, who won the Derby with Shaamit in 1996 and had Storm The Stars finish third three years ago, is keen to have a crack at the race.

Watch Shaamit win the Derby for William Haggas

"The favourite looked pretty impressive at Newmarket but you'd never be afraid of one horse," he said. "He's entitled to go.

"It's nice for Bernard because he's a huge fan of the Derby and he's always wanted to have a runner, of course. Now he looks like he's going to have one, and one who's got half a chance."

Kantor suffered a Derby blow when his South Easter, winner of the Dee Stakes here, was a late non-runner in the race in 2009, the first year of his firm's sponsorship. Nine years on Haggas takes inspiration from Billesdon Brook's 66-1 1,000 Guineas win as he assesses the chance of the owner's belated first Derby runner.

"If you're going to provide a shock in a Classic they have to stay," he said. "If there's a surprise, it's always from something that stays well, like Richard Hannon's filly in the 1,000 Guineas who stayed really well."

Doyle was impressed with Young Rascal and said: "I thought he passed the test quite well. There was a bit of scrimmaging and I didn't have a lot of room when I asked him to come out and win his race, and I loved the way he got the trip and battled hard; he's got a great temperament."

Dee Ex Bee finished second for Mark Johnston, who said: "You can see by the size of him that he might be a bit better on a galloping track. He's in the Derby and we'll keep all options open at the minute. His connections will have a say and it may depend on how their other horses get on; they have Mildenberger in the Dante."

Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore were seeking a sixth straight victory in the race but Hunting Horn could finish only third, three lengths behind Dee Ex Bee. 

Result, replay and analysis

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It took me nearly four hours to get here, it's a painful journey from East Anglia but it will be a slightly less painful one on the way home

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Young Rascal
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