Above Average was set the task of emulating the likes of Shahrastani and Shergar by adding a Derby success to his gritty victory in the Bet365 Classic Trial at Sandown.
Not since the former completed the double in 1986 has any other contender pulled it off, and 25-1 shock winner Above Average is 50-1 with Ladbrokes and totesport to score at Epsom on the first Saturday in June.
Coral and William Hill both introduced the son of High Chaparral into their Derby betting at 40-1 after Barry Hills’ colt knuckled down in pleasing fashion to deny tough front-runner Big Bound by a head.
Hills’ son and assistant, Charlie, said: “He is such a laid-back horse and has pleased us since his seasonal debut at Doncaster.
“He was in a handicap today and the Group Three and with only six runners, we decided to go for the Group race.
“He should improve for this and we will look at the Chester Vase or Dee Stakes with him.
“The Derby is still a possibility and the dream is still alive, but he would probably have to improve a fair bit.”
John Gosden trained the runner-up having earlier struck with Racketeer, a half-brother to 1000 Guineas winner Attraction, who successfully made the switch from the all-weather to grass and claimed the bet365.com Esher Cup.
The 100-30 winner had been off the track since winning over the mile trip before Christmas and travelled powerfully throughout under Nicky Mackay, en-route to a six-length demolition.
Winning owner the Duke Of Roxburghe said: “He was for sale but he didn’t make his reserve so I kept him and I am now quite pleased that I did.
“It didn’t look the strongest Esher Cup but we thought we had a good chance and he has done it well.”
On a card restricted to three-year-olds, Parthenon made all on his seasonal bow under Joe Fanning to account for his three rivals and oblige as the 11-10 favourite in the Casino At Bet365.com Conditions Stakes.
Trainer Mark Johnston’s wife and assistant, Deirdre, said: “Joe allowed him to use his big stride and go on, and he kept responding all the way up the hill.
“We can make more of a plan now he has won, but a mile would be his trip at the moment as he has plenty of speed.”
A trip to Royal Ascot beckons for Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Star Ruby after she took the Poker At Bet365.com Maiden Fillies’ Stakes as the 9-4 favourite, with the daughter of Montjeu and runner-up Hidden Brief pulling eight-lengths clear.
Chapple-Hyam said: “She is not in any of the big races but I will put her in the Ribblesdale next week and hopefully she can pick up some black type through the season.”
Clive Cox is looking forward to a summer of rich rewards with Master of Disguise after the 3-1 joint favourite landed a punt in the Bet365 Best Odds Guaranteed On Every Race Handicap.
Cox said: “We were aiming at the Newmarket sales race last year but the ground came up too quick.
“He still doesn’t want it too quick, but I am very pleased with him and a stiff five furlongs is ideal for him.”
Aqwaal was easy to back in the bet365.com Handicap but the 9-2 chance still proved superior under Tadhg O’Shea and pocketed the 10-furlong event by two and a half lengths.