Watch Juddmonte International analysis from our team at York, Lydia Hislop's interviews with Sir Michael Stoute and David Menuisier and read Geoffrey Riddle's report on the placed horses from the Knavesmire.
David Menuisier is eyeing even bigger paydays for Thundering Blue after the gallant grey stormed past Group One horses to finish third to Roaring Lion and Poet’s Word in the £1million Juddmonte International at York on Wednesday.
Sport is often about rolling the dice and the Frenchman and the horse’s absent owner, Cilve Washbourn, should be applauded after they were rewarded for supplementing the 50-1 outsider for the sum of £75,000 this week. This time last year he was winning a handicap at Newmarket off a handicap rating of 86.
Fran Berry anchored the five-year-old out the back of the field during the early stages, as Christophe Soumillon led his seven rivals aboard Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow.
As the runners were drawn to the near side rail, Thundering Blue got going to snatch third from 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior and earned Washbourn a profit of £39,325 on the day.
“I am extremely pleased,” Menuisier said. “When we looked at the field at declarations stage, we all had a good a laugh and thought, 'yeah, why not?'
“The horse always told us he was super well and is doing so well physically. I am so proud of him really. It is a fairytale story. I am over the moon.”
The only fancy entry Thundering Blue currently holds is for the £1.3million Qipco Champion Stakes on October 25, for which he is 25-1, but the £4.5million Japan Cup on November 25, which dangles a cheque of £2.1million to the winner in front of owners, is also a possibility – there is a free nomination before October 9 and it costs just £2,100 to declare.
When asked whether the gelded son of US sire Exchange Rate might run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the Pullborough trainer replied:
“No. He can’t race in it. The French are a bit awkward about testicles, you know?
“The way he was coming home against those type of horses you would like to believe he will win a Group One at some stage.
“The Canadian International has always been on our mind and I would very much like to be invited for the Japan Cup. The Japan Cup would suit him extremely well. We have been talking about it with Fran for a while, as he rode a lot there. He would like going a mile and a half.”
Berry said: "He ran a tremendous race and I can’t wait to ride him over a mile and a half. That’s how he likes to race. He can’t go early on, and he takes a long time to warm up in his races, which is why you can’t go early on. It wasn’t a surprise.”
Poet’s Word was gunning for a third Group One victory in 63 days, after his wins in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes over ten furlongs and his thrilling defeat of stable companion Crystal Ocean in the 12-furlong King George at Ascot last month.
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute ruled out a possible rematch with Roaring Lion in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 15.
"James (Doyle) said it was very messy and he had to switch direction,” Stoute said. "We thought we were in a good position turning in and then we were in the worst position.
"He was very brave to then get balanced and come back and get second so I could only be pleased with him. The winner had gone when we were reorganising."
Asked about plans, the Freemason Lodge trainer said: "The Irish Champion Stakes wouldn't be a possibility and I don't know where we'll go, why should I know now, it's too early. We'll just see how we think he is, have a chat with the owner. He's in everything he could be in. I think he's equally effective over 10 furlongs and a mile and a half."
Doyle was clearly unhappy at the scrimmaging in the race.
“You all saw it. It is not ideal,” he said.
Saxon Warrior had not raced for 46 days since he was second to Roaring Lion in the Coral-Eclipse, just seven days after securing the runner-up spot in the Irish Derby behind Latrobe.
The son of Japanese sire Deep Impact hung left a little before keeping on to hold off Benbatl, the first of the two Godolphin challengers home.
“He ran very well,” trainer Aidan O’Brien said. “It was his comeback run after his race at Sandown. I’m not sure where we will race him next. We’ll wait and see.”