By Dave Stevos
With Royal Ascot looming on the horizon there is a lack of Group class races in the UK this weekend. However, the highlight is the valuable Scottish Sprint Cup handicap at Musselburgh where the winner will take home over £60k. The race is due to get under way at 15.45, live on Channel 4, and you won’t want to blink or you might miss it. With 17 runners declared it will be a typically fast and furious 5f handicap and there is any amount of horses in with a chance. It looks a tricky puzzle to decipher but the one I like at a price is the Paul Midgely trained Desert Law.
This trailblazing 8yo son of Oasis Dream has been a fine servant to connections, winning 5 of his 36 starts and picking up over £100k in prize money. He had a fine season last year, running a string of cracking races after a slow start to the season, and the highlight was his win in the Epsom Dash (5f gd/fm) off a mark of 89. He followed that up with excellent efforts at the Curragh (5f gd) when second off 97 and at Ascot when third behind Double Up off 99.
He then sluiced up in a decent class 3 conditions race at Nottingham, a win that saw his mark jump from 100 to 106. He produced arguably a career best back in handicap company at York (5.5f gd/sft) next time, just over a length behind Caspian Prince in fourth off a mark of 106. He signed off with a decent effort in Listed company at Doncaster (5f gd) and he was then sent on his winter holidays.
He has returned to action this season with three average efforts, including last time at York off a mark of 103. However, he took a few runs to hit top gear last season and he could be set to take a big step forward at Musselburgh on Saturday. He has been dropped to a mark of 100, which may be 11lb above his last winning handicap mark, but if he can repeat the form of his fourth at York off 106 last summer then he is potentially very well treated.
He has a decent draw in stall 13 and that will give Martin Lane options from the start. Paul Midgley has his string in good form after a bit of a slow start, and he had a couple of very close calls at Hamilton during the week. He has a decent strike rate at Musselburgh too, sending out 9 winners from 66 runners in the past 5 seasons. There is little doubt that Desert Law is a classy horse on his day and, at his current odds of 20/1, I think it is worth chancing that he bounces back to form at Musselburgh on Saturday. He is the each way selection in what promises to be a scorching Scottish Sprint Cup.
STEVOS’ SELECTION: DESERT LAW E/W @ 20/1 PADDY POWER