MICHAEL Dods has already done it twice. Now he is aiming to do it again. Speed freak Mecca’s Angel won back-to-back renewals of the Coolmore Nunthorpe in 2015 and 2016. Now sprint specialist Dods is hoping that Mabs Cross can follow in the hoof-prints of his former star in the Nunthorpe at York on August 24. The Co.Durham-based handler has yet another speedy filly on his hands in the shape of the David Armstrong-owned Mabs Cross to chase the £350,000 prize money pot.
The four-year-old Dutch Art filly burst to prominence with a Group 3 victory at Newmarket in May. She ran an even bigger race next, finishing third to Blue Point in the Group 1 King’s Stand at Royal Ascot. Her last start was at Group 2 level when she was third at The Curragh last month.
It’s next stop the Knavesmire although Dods knows his charge will have her work cut out if she is to get close to the brilliant Battaash, who won a Group 2 at Glorious Goodwood earlier this month.
He said: “The Nunthorpe is a tough race with the likes of Battaash in, but the plan is to run Mabs Cross anyway. 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 was 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.”
Despite super filly Enable missing the Ebor Festival at York in favour of the September Stakes at Kempton, the Ebor Festival is promising to be a typically classy meeting.
Laurens will fly the flag for the north in the Yorkshire Oaks where she could meet Epsom Oaks victor Forever Together and Irish Oaks heroine Sea Of Class. Karl Burke’s filly will be very hard to beat if she stays the trip. I think she will.
The Juddmonte International could be a crackerjack of a contest if all the major players turn up. Poet’s Word and Roaring Lion are at the head of the ante-post betting market while Saxon Warrior, Cracksman could take part. The 12/1 available for Benbatl looks tempting.
In the Ebor itself, Europe’s richest handicap, Stratum is the runaway ante-post favourite but looks very skinny at 5/1. Last year’s winner Nakeeta is only 4lb higher this year and is running into form as his run at Newbury suggested last time.
The Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival runs for four days: from Wednesday, August 22 to Saturday 25 August.