Dods sweet on Champion Angel
Michael Dods says he'd "love to run" Mecca's Angel in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint at Ascot on Saturday week, after the amazing five-year-old mare returned from Chantilly in good shape after finishing third in Sunday's Prix de l'Abbaye.
Mecca's Angel could bid to bow out on a high at Ascot
Mecca's Angel was sent off a short priced favourite for the Group One after landing a second victory in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes but could only finish third, beaten three quarters of a length.
Dods doesn't want to make excuses for the defeat, stressing that finishing third in a Group One could hardly be considered a disappointment, even if the bare facts of her run suggest that she ran well below her best form.
The ground may have been faster than ideal in France and good to firm ground would prove a deterrent to letting her line up at Ascot, and her condition is set to be closely monitored for the next 10 days, but the trainer seems energised by the prospect of seeing his stable star go for a third Group One and make a belated first attempt at six furlongs since finishing fourth in the Redcar Two Year Old Trophy back in 2013.
"I'd usually give her a couple of easy weeks after a race but that's more because of the way that her races have been spaced out this season and she has run twice in relatively quick succession in the past so I don't think that's a problem – she loves her racing," he said.
"She seems to have come home well and she's eaten up well. We'll monitor her weight and either Paul [Mulrennan] or Conor [Beasley] will come and have a sit on her, probably next Monday or maybe Saturday. Whatever happens, we'll probably confirm her next Monday, but we'll at least have a better idea by then as to whether we're going to be running."
Reflecting upon the Abbaye run, Dods went on: "She was drawn in seven there and she had pace on both sides of her and Paul just had to have her a bit handy to stop horses from coming across her, which she doesn't want.
"I think the frontrunners probably just went a bit too fast, judging by the way everything came late down the outside, but she still ran a blinder.
"You never get much help from the stalls-handlers in France and she was in there for a long time. A horse a couple of stalls down was rearing up and she kicked out – in fact if you watch the replay of the race you can see that she kicked the back gates of the stall open just as they opened in front. Whether that made any difference, I don't know.
"I don't think the ground was a factor. Some people seem to think that it might have been quick enough, but I don't see it that way – on the day she just got beat and that's that.
"The going isn't anywhere near as big a factor as some seem to think – she wants good, good to soft going. The forecast might be dry at the moment, but we all know that at this time of the year a front can come in and make a difference. Only last week at Ascot, we all declared on good and it was soft on the day."
Dods was speaking to media who had earlier also visited Karl Burke's yard a few miles further south at Leyburn to see fellow big-race contender Quiet Reflection and asked about news of the filly who will be one of Mecca's Angel's chief rivals if both make the final line-up.
"I'm only asking because he keeps ringing me and asking how Mecca's Angel is," he smiled. "You have to respect what his filly has done this season, and it would be quite a race – it's good for the North to have people talking about these horses."
The pair dominate Sky Bet's ante-post market for the race with Quiet Reflection the 3/1 favourite with the Leeds layers who make Mecca's Angel their 6/1 co-second favourite alongside Shalaa and Twilight Son.
Should she line up, this will definitely be Mecca's Angel's last race, with discussions under way as to where she will retire to stud for the next stage of her life.
"We've had a few enquiries and at the moment we're in negotiation with one or two different parties," said Dods. "We'd like to pick where she goes now and make sure she has a good home but she won't be going to auction now and it's just a question of making sure we find the right place.
"She has done so much for us, I can't imagine how we will replace her when she was gone, but you've got to keep looking."
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