MICHAEL DODS will be targeting more Group One honours next year after confirming that his star sprinter, Mabs Cross, will remain in training for at least another season.

Dods celebrated one of the biggest successes of his training career last weekend as Mabs Cross swooped late to land the Qatar Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp on Arc day.

The Denton-based trainer enjoyed Group One victories in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York with Mecca’s Angel, and now finds himself saddling another top-class female sprinter.

The parallels between the two five-furlong specialists are remarkable, with both having risen through the ranks under Dods’ watchful eye. There are key differences between the two horses – Mabs Cross is a homebred filly that tends to stay on strongly over the minimum trip, whereas Mecca’s Angel was all about blistering speed in the early stages of her races – but the fact that both were stabled at Denton Hall makes Dods one of the most successful trainers of sprinters anywhere in Europe over the last few years.

Mecca’s Angel was retired to breeding shortly after the second of her two Nunthorpe wins, but having only turned four earlier this year, Mabs Cross will remain in training next summer.

She will be aimed at all the leading five-furlong races – with the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and Nunthorpe Stakes at York likely to figure highly on her list of targets, along with a potential defence of her Abbaye crown – and Dods is understandably delighted at owner David Armstrong’s decision to keep her on the track.

“It’s still sinking in what she achieved,” said Dods, who is rapidly approaching the 50-winner mark for the season. “We’re all so proud of her, and Sunday’s performance was amazing.

“She’s improved with every run this season, and we were obviously hoping for another big performance. To see her run the way she did was incredible though. It was great for the whole of the team.

“It’s fantastic to know that she’ll stay in training next year, and we’ll be aiming her at all the big sprint races. She’s been an absolute star this season, and hopefully we’ll have some more good days with her next year.”

While there has been talk of a possible tilt at either the sprint race on British Champions Day or a trip to the Breeders Cup, Mabs Cross will not run again this season.

Instead, she will spend the winter with her owner’s daughter, Sophie Armstrong, at Highfield Farm, in Lancashire.

The Armstrongs bred her themselves, and her success has been a real team effort, with Dods’ stable staff playing a crucial role in ensuring she arrived at Longchamp in ideal shape.

Transporting her to France was a three-day project, and she was accompanied every yard of the way by travelling head lad Kenny Williams and Emma Heywood, who has looked after the filly throughout her racing career.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Heywood. “I just couldn’t believe it. I thought she’d run well and maybe get a place because she’s so consistent, but to win like she did was fantastic.

“She always tries and never gives up. I think of her as a bit of a tomboy because she’s a filly but really tough and boyish.”

Mabs Cross’ success capped a fantastic weekend for the Dods yard, with another female sprinter, Intense Romance, having recorded a Listed success at Ascot 24 hours earlier.

Intense Romance achieved the biggest victory of her career when she landed the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Rous Stakes, and she is likely to be campaigned in Group contests too next season.

She is often turned out with Mabs Cross in the paddocks surrounding Dods’ training base, but unlike her fellow sprinter, she is not yet finished her work for the season.

Whereas Mabs Cross triumphed in France, Intense Romance is being aimed at Italy, with Dods having entered her for a race at Milan a week on Sunday.

Her South Shields-based owners, Malcolm and Sharon Linsley, were understandably delighted with her weekend success, a victory that maintained a family tradition that was first established more than half-a-century ago.

Malcolm’s grandfather, Hugh Linsley, owned horses in the 1940s, including one called Bricette that ran in the Grand National.

Hugh died in 1968, and his distinctive red-and-white striped racing colours lay dormant for 40 years before they were brought back into use by Malcolm for Intense Romance.

“It was because of my grandfather that I got into racing and I just thought it would be nice to bring his colours back,” said Malcolm.