Angel of the North

County Durham trainer Michael Dods believes Easton Angel can cope with a rise in grade when she runs in the Hilary Needler Trophy at Beverley on Saturday.

The Dark Angel filly looked the real deal on her debut in a soft-ground Musselburgh maiden on May 11 and now takes the plunge in the £25,000 conditions stakes on the Westwood.

Dods said: "After what she did at Musselburgh, we felt she deserved her chance in the Hilary Needler.We fancied her quite a bit that day. It probably wasn't the hottest race in the world, but she showed up very well on her first start. She came out of it really well and, from what we've seen from her home-work since then, you'd say she's come on for that run and has improved. You'd expect her to stay six furlongs in time, so the hill at Beverley over five (furlongs) shouldn't bother her. Running in a race like the Hilary Needler is obviously a big step up in class from Musselburgh, but we do like her."

Conditions were demanding at Musselburgh, but Dods is confident the Ritchie Fiddes-owned Easton Angel should handle a brisker surface at Beverley.The Darlington handler said: "She's by Dark Angel so cut in the ground suits her, but, looking at her action, I don't think she'll mind it quicker than it was at Musselburgh. It's going to be a different test for her, but she'll be fine. We need to see how we get on in the Hilary Needler before making plans, but there are a lot of decent races in the next six weeks we can think about. Hopefully she's going to be an exciting one for the summer."

Easton Angel is one of 10 declarations in a fine renewal of the historic Hilary Needler, the oldest privately sponsored race in the United Kingdom and a renowned stepping-stone for Royal Ascot.Richard Fahey fires two shots with unbeaten duo Holy Grail and Kept Under Wraps, with Mick Channon's Opal Tiara also successful on her debut at Wolverhampton. Arranmore Girl has had the Hilary Needler on her agenda since she struck over course and distance in April, while Company Asset flies the flag for Kevin Ryan, who was won the race three times in the last 10 years. New Road Side, Majestic Bond, Socialites Red and Vocalise round out the field. 

Twin feature on the seven-race card, which is due to start at 2.05pm, is the Brian Yeardley Continental Two-Year-Old Trophy. The £25,000 conditions stakes for colts and geldings often produces Royal Ascot candidates and has this year attracted a seven-strong entry. Furiant, Gallipoli, Lathom and First Selection will defend unbeaten one-race records, while King's Mimic looked talented when victorious over course and distance on May 4.

El Principe, fourth behind King's Mimic on debut, represents local trainer Les Eyre, with the unraced Kingthistle completing the septet.

The current going on the Westwood is good to firm, good in places, with watering taking place to preserve conditions.