Michael Dods has enjoyed plenty of big-race success with sprinters in recent seasons and Dakota Gold will attempt to continue that trend in the Betway Achilles Stakes at Doncaster on Sunday.
Last season proved something of a turning point in the career of the son of Equiano, as he progressed through the handicap ranks before rounding out the campaign with a second Listed success at Ascot.
Returning at the same level, the six-year-old gelding will bid to take the five-furlong prize ahead of a return to Pattern company later in the year.
Dods said: “He looks well and is in good form, but a run will do him the world of good. The rain up there is not a worry to him as he doesn’t mind the soft ground. He is as fit as I can get him at home, knowing he will improve for the run.
“I think he has probably matured. We used to try to restrain him, but he is so free we decided to see what he was like going from the front. He seemed to settle well.
“He is a very genuine horse and when horses come at him, he goes again.”
Having saddled both Mabs Cross and Mecca’s Angel to Group One glory in the past, Dods is well aware Dakota Gold still has a way to go to match their achievements on track.
He added: “He will certainly not better last season as he is in better races. He races with a penalty in this and though life will be a lot harder, he will take his chance in Group Threes and Twos later on. Life is going to be a lot harder, but he wears his heart on his sleeve.
“He is not as easy to deal with as Mabs Cross and Mecca’s Angel and it is hard to say how far he will go, but he has got big shoes to fill and if he does continue to go through the grades, he could take in the same sort of races they did.”
Copper Knight already has a run under his belt this season having finished second at Newmarket last Sunday and connections of the Tim Easterby-trained six-year-old are optimistic he can be in the shake up again stepped back up in class.
Tim Palin, racing manager for owner Middleham Park Racing, said: “He was not cherry ripe at Newmarket and he ran very well on freshness and the fact Tim’s horses are running so well. He should improve physically and fitness wise for that.
“If you could choose his ideal ground to run on for the rest of his career, it would be good to soft and second preference would be soft. He is probably not a Group horse, but one for Listed races and top handicaps.
“David Allan has learned how to ride him and you don’t simply have to gun him out, you can sit in just behind so he is not one dimensional.”