Michael Dods : Racehorse Trainer

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Dakota Gold looks York-bound after bulleting back to winning form

DAKOTA Gold is likely to try to repeat last year’s success in the listed Betfred Garrowby Stakes at York after bouncing back to winning form in today’s William Hill Beverley Bullet Sprint Stakes.

Trainer Michael Dods said it was the first time the six-year-old gelding had encountered the right conditions in five attempts this season.

Jockey Connor Beasley rode a positive race from the front in the five-furlong listed race at Beverley and the horse ran on well to beat Kevin Ryan’s Last Empire by a length and a half.

Michael said this season was always likely to be tough for Dakota Gold following his five wins in 2019 but today’s conditions were “spot on”.

“He’s a soft ground horse and the ground dried up for his first three runs of the season at Doncaster, Sandown and Newbury,” said the Denton trainer.

“Then the ground was adequate last time in the Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon but he was carrying 9st 10lb against the winner’s 8st 5lbs. You could see he was coming back to his best but it was a lot of weight to give away.

“If he was going to return to winning form, today was his best chance and it was nice to see him bounce back the way he did.”

At the start of the season, Michael and owners – Doug Graham, Ian Davison and Alan Drysdale – had envisaged targeting listed and group races in France and Ireland, but Covid-19 restrictions had forced a rethink.

Dakota Gold’s most likely next race will, therefore, be York’s Garrowby Stakes in early September, followed by the listed Rous Stakes, at Ascot, and the Group 3 Wentworth Stakes at Doncaster.

The Garrowby Stakes was the fourth of the gelding’s wins last season, coming home clear of Michael Appleby’s Danzeno.

“I haven’t discussed it with the owners yet and there are other possibilities but that’s the probable route now,” said Michael.

The trainer was also delighted to win earlier on the Beverley card with newcomer Northern Express, owned like Jawwaal by The Sekura Group, and ridden by Paul Mulrennan.

The Zoffany colt exceeded expectations by finishing strongly to land the William Hill Extra Places Every Day EBF Novice Stakes (Division One) in the style of a nice prospect.

Michael said: “He’s always looked a nice horse. He’s well-bred and we’ve given him plenty of time but it was important to get him on the racecourse.

“We expected him to run nicely, but a bit green, and maybe finish third or fourth. Anything more than was a bonus but he’s done it nicely and is a horse with a future.”