Dakota Gold returned to form with a decisive victory in the William Hill Beverley Bullet Sprint Stakes.
Michael Dods’ sprinter had failed to hit the frame in four previous races this term, but faced a series of tough tasks either in Pattern company or most recently trying to give weight all round in the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon.
Back at Listed level here, Dakota Gold was always prominently placed by Connor Beasley, before taking over in the final two furlongs and repelling all challengers.
The 11-2 shot was dominant at the line – winning by a length and a half from Last Empire, with 3-1 favourite Keep Busy a further half-length back in third.
Dakota Gold won five of his seven starts last season, so was rediscovering the happy knack on his first ever visit to Beverley – as well as completing a double for Dods, following the 10-1 victory of Northern Express in division one of the William Hill Extra Places Every Day EBF Novice Stakes.
The County Durham trainer said: “It was never going to be easy to cap last season – he did so well, stepping up from handicaps to Listed, so this time it was always going to be difficult. But it’s nice he’s got his head in front.
“The biggest problem was we had to dip his toe into Group races, and he’s a horse that needs soft ground.”
Given his favoured conditions, though, there was no doubting Dakota Gold’s superiority.
Dods added: “The first time he got any ground at all, to half his liking, was at Ripon – where he ran a good race in the Great St Wilfrid, but obviously giving too much weight away.
“Then today, he’s got soft ground – that’s the first time he’s had his conditions (this season).
“We’d sent him to Sandown, and it was too quick; they said it would be easy (ground) at Newbury, but it was too quick.
“We felt he was coming back to his best after his Ripon run, and he’s done it nicely today.”
Once the six-year-old got to the front, the pack never threatened to close again – which came as no surprise to Dods.
“He’s got a high cruising speed, and on soft ground he seems as though he can go again – whereas on good ground he goes fast, and that’s it, he doesn’t have anything more to give,” he said.
“But on this ground, he picks up again – which is what he did today. He sort of ran them into the ground really.”
If the autumn serves up more soft ground, Dakota Gold will be busy – and, Dods expects, profitable.
“There’s a few races to look at between now and the end of the season, and I’m hoping he’ll get his conditions again – and he’ll go in again,” he added.
“The two races we’ll look at are the two he won last year – the York race, the Garrowby, then a Listed race (Rous Stakes) at Ascot, and the Wentworth at Doncaster at the end of the season.
“We’ve got the Group Three at Newbury (Dubai International Airport World Trophy Stakes) on Ayr Gold Cup day, if the ground was soft – if it wasn’t soft, we’d probably run Que Amoro in it.”
The latter was a revelation for Dods when she pushed the brilliant Battaash all the way as a length runner-up in the Group One Nunthorpe at York.
After that outstanding performance, the four-year-old filly, who has an entry in next month’s Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes, would in normal circumstances be expected to head to the Curragh, and then perhaps the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp.
But travel limitations in force because of the coronavirus pandemic mean Dods is thinking closer to home – more so because both horses run so well for their regular jockeys.
Beasley has ridden Dakota Gold in all but four of his 34 races, and all 10 victories.
Dods said: “It is difficult. We feel with Dakota Gold that Connor Beasley is important to him – as much as we feel, with Que Amoro, Paul Mulrennan is important to her.
“You think with her, we could look at the Flying Five – but that takes Paul out of the equation, because he can’t isolate and go to Ireland.
“Then the Abbaye, that would be the problem there with her – so because of that, we’ll do it differently to what we’d probably have done in a normal year.
“We’ll more than likely look at the Newbury Group Three – probably enter both of them, and if it came up soft Dakota Gold would head there, and if decent ground it would probably be Que Amoro.
“We’d monitor conditions and decide which one runs in it.”