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Michael Dods hoping strong pace can see Mabs Cross go one better in Nunthorpe

The Mabs Cross camp believe she is set to run another huge race in the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York as they dream of avenging last year's photo-finish defeat and downing sprinting titans Battaash and Ten Sovereigns.

Trainer Michael Dods is anticipating a strongly run race at York which he thinks will suit the Group 1-winning five-year-old in the showpiece event on August 23.

Mabs Cross, photo Liesl King

The David Armstrong-owned mare, a top-priced 5-1 for the Nunthorpe, finished third in the King's Stand before heading to York 12 months ago and Dods is expecting a similar level of improvement on a fourth-placed finish, less than three lengths behind Blue Point and just a length and a half behind runner-up Battaash, at Royal Ascot in June.

He said: "She seems every bit as good this year as she did going into the race last season. She's a bit stronger now and she looks great.

"The pace of the race at Ascot didn't suit her, she needs to be off the bridle. I thought she was travelling superbly but she didn't pick up. There should be plenty of pace at York so we're hoping she can run a big race."

Battaash, who completed a Glorious Goodwood hat-trick in the King George Qatar Stakes this month, is the top-priced 5-2 favourite for the Group 1 but has been below his best twice in the Nunthorpe. Emphatic July Cup winner Ten Sovereigns is available at 3-1.

Dods said: "It looks a competitive race, as you would expect, with Battaash in great form, but I don't think Battaash turned up last year. Hopefully there will be some nice ground and she can run another big race."

After her tantalisingly close defeat to Alpha Delphini in the five-furlong contest last year, Mabs Cross underlined her class when edging out Gold Vibe in the Prix de l'Abbaye.

Dods, who enjoyed Nunthorpe glory with Mecca's Angel in 2015 and 2016, added: "She's in good form and we're looking forward to taking her back to York.

"It would be nice to put it right. There are no easy Group 1s and she will need to be right up there on top form on the day."

Mabs Cross' owner-breeder Armstrong and his wife Emma are elated with the daughter of Dutch Art and are looking forward to returning to York. 

The Lancashire-based owner has enjoyed plenty of success with his sprinters including Mayson, who won the July Cup in 2012, while Lathom landed the valuable Super Sprint in 2015. 

Emma Armstrong said: "She's fit and well and has been progressing well in the races we had mapped out at the start of the year.

"Unfortunately Alpha Delphini isn't in the race and it's a shame for all involved with him, it would have been nice to have another battle. There are plenty of good horses to go up against but we'll do our own thing. We'll have a good go at it and do our best."

She has not forgotten last season's agonisingly close Nunthorpe defeat, and added: "It was the closest you could have ever been. We took it on the chin, as we do up north, and shook Bryan's [Smart] hand and the party involved. But last season was phenomenal – it's what dreams are made of really."

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