Dante Festival: Monsieur Joe provides elusive victory for Paul Midgley
10:49am Friday 16th May 2014 in Sport
PAUL MIDGLEY earned his first York winner in three years as Monsieur Joe (25-1) continued the fabulous run of North Yorkshire trainers at the Dante Festival at York Racecourse.
The Westow handler hadn’t been in the winner’s enclosure at Knavesmire since Internationaldebut in 2011 and immediately targeted the Epsom Dash for his victorious seven-year-old, who surged home under Graham Lee to beat Elusivity by a length.
Midgley said: “You wonder whether he is still good enough to win one of these races, off his mark and at his age.
“He has answered the question for us. Graham has given him a peach. The gaps have opened at the right time and he has finished well.
“I am chuffed. It’s always good to have a winner at York. It has been a while.”
He added: “He will go for the Dash. Before today I would have said that Epsom wouldn’t suit him that well but it’s a pretty quick five here too.
“It’s the same anywhere. It’s about gaps opening at the right time and they have opened beautifully for us here.”
A brave front running performance from Ambivalent (9-2) saw her land the Group 2 Middleton Stakes from Secret Gesture.
In spite of her quirks Ambivalent, sporting her regular hood, was sent straight into the lead by jockey Andrea Atzeni and began to stack her rivals up.
Secret Gesture briefly got past but Ambivalent never looked like living up to her name and she found extra to rally past the last year’s Oaks runner-up - drawing away by one-and-three-quarter lengths.
“I just thought there wasn’t much pace in the race and that she’d get her own way in front,” her trainer Roger Varian said.
“I think Andrea gave her a peach of a ride. She’s one of those rare animals, most horses who act up and perform beforehand, it takes their race away, but she’s very tough. She’s a challenge but she’s good so we don’t mind that sort of challenge.”
Stillington’s Ruth Carr only narrowly missed out on a York winner as Fort Bastion, ridden by James Sullivan, was collard close to the line by Navajo Chief (15-2) in the Listed Betfred Hambleton Stakes.
A resurgent Kieren Fallon steered the seven-year-old to the line as Navajo Chief won back-to-back runnings of the £40,000 mile long contest.
Elsewhere, Frankie Dettori got on the scoresheet with Shamshon (9-1) in the British Stallion Studs EBF Conditions Stakes and former England footballer Mick Channon trained Bossy Guest (5-1) to a racecourse debut win in the Stratford Place Stud Chriselliam Memorial EBF Stallions Maiden Stakes.
And Villa Royale (16-1) saw off Eagle Rock and Entihaa to win the closing Investec Specialist Bank Stakes for Newark trainer Michael Appleby.
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