William Haggas believes Young Rascal is a “reformed character” ahead of his bid for glory in Sunday’s Longines Hong Kong Vase.
The son of Intello was considered a serious contender for last year’s Investec Derby at Epsom following trial success at Chester.
He could only finish seventh in the premier Classic, but bounced back with successive Newbury wins in the autumn of 2018 to offer plenty of hope for the future.
However, disappointing efforts in the John Porter at Newbury and the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket led to him being gelded.
“We felt he didn’t really put it in at Newbury first time – he may have been a bit rusty, but we had him pretty fit. At Newmarket he didn’t run properly, for us he wasn’t focused at all,” said Haggas.
The operation appeared to have had the desired effect when he made a successful return in last month’s Floodlit Stakes at Kempton.
There is little doubt Young Rascal has far more on his plate at Sha Tin, but Haggas is hopeful his charge can make his presence felt.
“He was awful in the spring, so we cut him and gave him the summer off and he came back and ran a pretty smart race at Kempton,” the Newmarket trainer added.
“I thought he was a little bit rusty and when he came to take it up, he hesitated a bit, but when Tom (Marquand) gave him one he stretched away nicely.
“This is a perfect fit, it’s a month since Kempton. He’s been very good, he’s been training really well this autumn, he’s definitely a reformed character to the one he used to be.”
Young Rascal will be ridden by Frankie Dettori for the first time.
The popular Italian is a six-time winner at this meeting, first landing the Vase aboard Luso in 1996.
Of Young Rascal, Dettori said: “He’s a nice horse, he’s got lots of potential and he has low mileage.
“It looks a very tough race, but he’s there with a chance.”