MICHAEL DODS knows what it takes to win York’s Nunthorpe Stakes, the Ebor festival’s premier sprint.
His speed queen Mecca’s Angel won successive features of this five-furlong renewal in 2015 and 2016 under Boroughbridge-based jockey Paul Mulrennan.
Now Dods is targeting the Group One race on Friday week with the David Armstrong-owned Mabs Cross.
Victorious in Newmarket’s Palace House Stakes in May, the four-year-old filly then chased home Battaash – arguably Europe’s top sprinter – at Haydock when finishing a far-from-disgraced fourth.
She then confirmed her class by finishing third to the William Buick-ridden and Charlie Appleby-trained Blue Point in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot before being placed behind Karl Burke’s Havana Grey in Ireland on her last start.
Both Blue Point and Battaash, a runaway winner at Goodwood at the start of this month, are on course for, potentially, one of the races of the year in the Nunthorpe, and Dods knows that he will have his work cut out if he is to add to his Nunthorpe tally.
“The Nunthorpe is a tough race with the likes of Battaash in, but the plan is to run Mabs Cross anyway,” said the Darlington trainer.
“We could do with a bit of cut in the ground, hopefully, to slow Battaash up a bit! But the way he won at Goodwood he was so impressive. He’s undoubtedly a top-class sprinter.
“But Mabs Cross is on track. We’re happy with her and she’s in good form. She’ll do a bit of work on Saturday and that will probably be it.
“I’m very lucky to have her. She has run well this season. In Ireland the last time there wasn’t enough pace on for her to be honest.
“But she still ran well.
“Mecca’s Angel was a different type. She has speed.
“This filly, she sort of needs a fast pace to aim at but she hasn’t got the natural early speed that Mecca’s Angel had.
“A bit slower ground would help her because it would slow those speed horses up. But she is improving, so we’ll see where we get to.”
Stable companions Flying Pursuit and Golden Apollo, who dominated the finish of the Dash at York recently, are among an entry of 61 for the William Hill Great St Wilfrid at Ripon on Saturday.
The Tim Easterby-trained pair pulled a long way clear of the rest on the Knavesmire, with Flying Pursuit winning by a neck, but he will be 1lb worse off on this occasion.
Great Habton-based Easterby, who won the race with Mattmu last year, has also entered smart three-year-old Staxton and Bossipop.
Richard Fahey also has a few to chose from with the likes of Kimberella and Brian The Snail engaged, but Growl appears to be the stable’s main hope.
Ruth Carr’s ever popular course specialist Pipers Note, second to Mattmu in last year’s renewal, is also entered in Ripon’s feature race of the year.
The admirably consistent horse will be bidding for a ninth victory at the North Yorkshire racecourse after two heartwarming successes at the track in recent weeks.