PAUL Midgley might not have a champion three-year-old in his stable, but the Ryedale trainer will still head to Epsom on Derby day with every chance of saddling a big-race winner after Monsieur Joe confirmed his sprinting abilities with a scorching success in yesterday’s Betfred supports Jack Berry House Stakes.
The five-furlong specialist defied odds of 25-1 to stretch a length clear of the well-supported Elusivity, and will now be entered in the Investec Dash, the race that traditionally precedes the Derby on the first weekend of June.
“It’s always good to have a winner at York,” said Midgley, who is based at Westow, near Malton. “It’s been a while because we drew a complete blank last year.
“He’ll go for the Dash at Epsom now. Before today, I wouldn’t have said that Epsom would suit him that well, but it’s a pretty quick five furlongs here as well as he certainly handled that. Graham (Lee) gave him a peach of a ride.”
The Middleton Stakes provided the main support to the Dante on yesterday’s card, and Ambivalent made her Group One form tell as she made every yard to land a competitive renewal.
Last year’s Pretty Polly Stakes winner had to be ponied to the start to prevent her boiling over, and looked to have done too much in the early stages as she raced to the front under Andrea Atzeni.
However, while last year’s Oaks runner-up, Secret Gesture, pulled alongside her with a furlong to run, Ambivalent found more to land her second success at Group level.
“She’s a real personality, but she’s tough as nails,” said trainer Roger Varian. “She can act up pre-race, but you can’t detract from her performance. We learned in Dubai that she took comfort by being with a pony, and we used one to lead her across the track from the stables again.
“She’s entered in everything, and we’ll probably look to step her back to Group One company. She’s travelled to Ireland, Turkey and Dubai, and we’ll look at an international campaign come the autumn.”
The Karl Burke-trained Odeliz, who won a Listed race in France last summer, finished a decent third, but favourite Thistle Bird disappointed as she finished outside the places.