Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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The Longines Hong Kong Vase is the target for Young Rascal who defied a lengthy absence to win the Listed Matchbook Floodlit Stakes at Kempton Park on Monday.
The three-length victory under Tom Marquand was the William Haggas-trained gelding’s fifth win in a career spanning just nine starts and his fourth Group 3 success that includes landing the MBNA Chester Vase last year.
The son of Intello bagged two Group 3s at Newbury last term after finishing seventh in the 2018 Investec Derby, but disappointed in two runs earlier this year and was gelded before his return at Kempton.
The four-year-old had reportedly been working well ahead of Monday’s 12 furlong contest and always appeared to be travelling well as he tracked the leaders in the boutique field of six runners, before being driven to lead at the furlong and extending the advantage to score by three lengths.
“We were hoping for that sort of performance from Young Rascal,” said Haggas who is targeting the $HK 20,000,000 (£1,986,159) Hong Kong Vase over 2400 metres at Sha Tin racecourse in Hong Kong’s New Territories on December 8.
“He is a talented horse who lost his way in the spring for whatever reason – he did not run properly in the John Porter Stakes and then he ran badly in the Jockey Club Stakes,” the Newmarket handler said.
“We cut (gelded) him, gave him a lot of time off, and he has come back well. He has been training very well to be fair.
“We had him in the St Simon Stakes [at Newbury], which was abandoned, and fortunately this race fitted in quite nicely eight or nine days later.
“I felt he raced a bit rusty when he came off the bridle and Tom had to get into him a bit but, once he did, he went away nicely. He does not do anything too quickly, but he is a pretty smart staying horse.
“My plan had always been to give him the summer off here and then try to get invited to Hong Kong for the Vase, which I think he will, and then go to Australia for the Sydney Cup with a prep race beforehand.
“Now he is gelded, he has no stallion value obviously and we have to race around the world for some money. He is a very sound horse and today was a great start. He will have bigger challenges to come, but let’s get on with it.
“I think he will stay, and Saudi Arabia has thrown a spanner in the works by putting on a $2.5 million staying over a mile and seven furlongs, which could be very tempting. I need to go out and have a look at their track first, but I gather it is a big galloping so that would be good.
“Then there is obviously the Dubai Sheema Classic and Dubai Gold Cup as well. We have lots of options and it is great that he has jumped the first hurdle. If he can jump the others, we will be very pleased.”
Marquand added: “Young Rascal stayed really well there. Luckily, there was an injection of speed down the back straight, as that helped me out. It was a pleasing comeback on the racecourse.
“The horse I was following was not the one I wanted to be behind early, but I thought it might work out okay in the end and luckily I got a quick option out.
“Young Rascal is clearly a nice horse with loads of ability and hopefully bigger and better things are on the horizon for him.”
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