The form of the tight finish that concluded the recent listed Fairway Stakes at Newmarket, on May 19, is not too easy to assess, but, of the first four home, who were covered by little more than a length, time might prove that Henry Candy’s third-placed Rugged Cross is the best of that bunched finish, writes Elliot Slater.

The first two home – John Gosden’s Thought Worthy and Sir Henry Cecil’s Noble Mission – are both possible runners at Epsom, as too is the close fourth, Farhaan, from the John Dunlop yard, and they had both had previous outings, this season, giving them a decided fitness advantage over Rugged Cross.

In the race itself Candy’s colt was patiently ridden by Dane O’Neill, held up at the rear of the field, before coming with a promising looking effort, to challenge entering the final furlong. Although he failed to quicken past the leading pair, the son of Cape Cross kept on to be beaten just a length into third, and was far from disgraced.

Although his pedigree suggests that 10 furlongs might well prove the limit for Rugged Cross, connections might well take the view that it is worth chancing their arm in the Derby, with a horse who, last season, ran an eye-catching fifth on his debut in a Newbury maiden.

He went on to put up a very useful performance in winning a hot maiden at York, where, amongst those trailing in behind, was the subsequent Group 1 Middle Park Stakes hero, Crusade.

Not seen in action since that win at the Ebor fixture, it was no surprise to see Rugged Cross looking as though the outing would do him good at HQ, and there will be worse each-way bets in the Derby field than Candy’s big hope, who is currently offered at 50/1 on Betfair.

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