The contrarian word on the weekend action....

Last Updated: 25.05.2018

Friday, 25th May 2018

The contrarian word on the weekend action….

I must confess to being intrigued by Paul Midgley’s decision to run DESERT ACE in tomorrow afternoon’s Sprint Stakes at York (3.40).

The 7yo’s last 4 runs have been down at class 5 level....

Yet here is jumping up three grades to class 2 and contesting a decent pot for the first time in a long while – sneaking in at the foot of the weights....

Maybe Mr. Midgley is tilting at windmills. That’s always a possibility. Or maybe he’s lost his mind....

But let’s not forget that Mr. Midgely has a tonne of talent when it comes to sprinters....

He knows how they tick. He knows how to retune them. He knows how to make them work....

Nobody knows how he does it, but he improves them. And maybe he’s improved this one....

I think the omens are good....

  • Working the magic....

Midgley got this horse from Iain Jardine last autumn....

He ran him at Catterick in October. Then he left it until the spring and gave the horse a couple of outings on the all-weather....

The horse produced nothing in those races. But Midgley and his team would have been gradually running the horse into fitness and learning about him as they went....

There were signs of something next time at Beverley where the horse ran 4th in a big-field sprint over 5f on fast ground under Paul Mulrennan – Midgley’s much-favoured rider....

Next time they tried him on soft and maybe turned him round a bit too quick. He ran below par at Chepstow under Dougie Costello....

It came together at Beverley next time out with Mulrennan back in the saddle. Midgley removed the cheekpieces the horse had been wearing regularly for some time and the horse won well – travelling strongly, picking up nicely and winning in comfortable fashion....

If it wasn’t a career-best effort, it was certainly a return to the form of older days and a clear sign that the Midgley magic might well be at work again....

  • A rag with things going for it....

That he turns out tomorrow in much classier company than he has been accustomed to of late is another sign – if you choose to read it that way....

With his horse firing, Midgley might just be here to pick up the scraps of the prize-money....

But that’s no problem. With the horse up at 40s in the betting, we value punters wouldn’t sniff at picking place money on our bets....

And that’s how I’m minded about playing this one – backing the one horse each-way at the big price....

He’s the absolute rag in the race, but I never ever let that put me off. I never worry about what the crowd believes. And I am always happy to oppose it....

He’s here and Midgley must reckon he’s worth taking a chance with. There would be little point showing up with him and being beaten half the track. And he’s got a couple of things going for him tomorrow....

First, his yard is in better form than most of the others right now....

Second, Midgley has secured him stall number two. That’s a key consideration. We saw yesterday how these 5f sprints at York tend to develop on the far side of the track. Our lad is in exactly the right spot....

Third, he’s versatile in terms of going. He goes on anything except extreme soft and heavy. With the rain forecast at York throughout today and some more tomorrow, it might not be as quick as some horses and their connections would have been anticipating earlier in the week, Our lad could be better suited than most....

The bottom line is that I think Midgley has got this horse firing again....

Can he have got him back to his best when he was rated mid-90s? I don’t know. But he could well have him better than a mark of 79 (with a 3lb claimer up) and that’s the point tomorrow.

I’m taking a punt for sure, but I reckon the 40s underestimates where this horse might be now that Midgley has had a bit of time to work under bonnet and fix a few things....

The Contrarian Bet Box….

To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….

In the Sprint Stakes (3.40 @ York).

  • Nick’s Contrarian Picks – DESERT ACE each-way (40s generally)

That is my take on where the value lies – but you will no doubt have your own ideas and that’s exactly as it should be.

Get the latest odds here >>

  • The last word….

That’s all from me for today.

Win, lose or draw – enjoy the racing....

I’ll be back a little later today with ATC Extra....

Until then. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd