Young Rascal was produced with a perfectly-timed run to advertise his Derby claims in the Centennial Celebration – MBNA Chester Vase at Chester.
Trained by William Haggas and owned by Bernard Kantor, managing director of Epsom sponsor Investec, Young Rascal (100-30) had to negotiate a tricky passage in the hands of the in-form James Doyle.
With Flag Of Honour setting the early gallop for his fellow Aidan O’Brien-trained runner Hunting Horn, Young Rascal was on the heels of the latter with Ispolini on his outside turning for home.
However, as the field fanned out across the track, Doyle found a gap between Ispolini and the charging Dee Ex Bee to win by an ultimately cosy half-length.
Haggas – who won the Derby in 1996 with Shaamit – was delighted with both the victory and the experience gained by his colt.
The Newmarket-based Yorkshireman said: “That was why we came here, to get two races in one. He did well to win, as a few things went against him.
“He’s got a bit to offer, it’s hard for a horse who has only run once at two, they’ve got to learn quick. This is not a straightforward track, he’s a green horse and he had plenty to overcome, so with that in mind he’s doing well.
“The Derby favourite (Saxon Warrior) looks pretty impressive, but you should never be scared of one horse and we’re entitled to run. We’ll see what happens at Lingfield and York (Derby trials) now.”
He went on: “It took me four hours to get here, it’s not easy from East Anglia, but it will be a less painful journey back.
“It’s nice for Bernard, he’s a big supporter of the Derby and has always wanted a runner in it, so to now head there with hopefully half a chance is nice.
“Breakfast With The Stars is a possibility (for a sighter of Epsom), but it might put him off – we considered it with Shaamit but didn’t take him for that reason.
“My only concern would be if the ground got very quick, but Epsom do a very good job there now with the ground.
“It’s about time I had another chance in the Derby. It’s a long time since Shaamit, I haven’t had many runners and Storm The Stars was third so we’ll see on the day if this lad is fast enough.”
Mark Johnston said of the runner-up: “He’s taken another step forward. I didn’t think the draw would be so important over that trip, but Franny (Norton) found himself trapped wide and always on the turn.
“He’s a big horse and you’d think he will be better on a more galloping track.
“He’s in the Derby and we’ll treat it as an option, but the owner also has Mildenberger who is heading for the Dante, so we’ll see how he does.
“The owner might want to keep them both apart, we’ll see.”