Menuisier ponders 2021 Arc after Wonderful Tonight’s Royallieu victory

Sat 3 Oct 2020

David Menuisier has next year’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in mind for Wonderful Tonight, after she gave him a first Group One in his native country in the Qatar Prix de Royallieu at ParisLongchamp.

Menuisier, the Sussex-based but French-born trainer, and owner Christopher Wright had thought about supplementing the lightly-raced filly for Sunday’s showpiece this year – only to stick to their original plan, and see it come to fruition.

With just seven career starts to her name, the three-year-old daughter of Le Havre is set to stay in training in 2021 – and it is possible too she may run again this term in the British Champions Fillies’ And Mares Stakes at Ascot, after having her odds halved from 16-1 to 8-1 with Betfair and Paddy Power.

Wonderful Tonight was sent off the 7-2 favourite for the Royallieu, having won a Group Three race in Deauville and finished a creditable fifth in the Prix Vermeille last month.

Jockey Tony Piccone had her well-positioned just off the pace set by Frankie Dettori on Miss Yoda for John Gosden – with the Ralph Beckett-trained Manuela De Vega on his heels and Pista, trained by Joseph O’Brien, not far away.

Piccone made his move early in the home straight, and Wonderful Tonight kicked on over two furlongs out. She drifted towards the stands side – while her nearest pursuer, Pista, spoilt her chance by going the other way towards the far rail.

Wonderful Tonight maintained the gallop throughout the entire mile-and-three-quarter trip to score by a length and a quarter from Pista.

The first two drew five lengths clear of Ebaiyra in third place.

Menuisier said: “I am so proud of the filly. She is very tough, and I think it was a well-deserved win, because she didn’t do it the easy way – she won the hard way.

“She was still a bit keen throughout, and I think it’s greenness. She’s not a filly that pulls or whatever. She’s still not the finished article. There is, in my opinion, bags of improvement to come in the way she does things. I’m over the moon.”

Menuisier is in no rush just yet to commit her to Ascot, though.

“She’s entered ,and I can’t say either way,” he added. “We will see how she comes out of the race obviously. It’s in two weeks’ time – and (we’ll) see if the track is still waterlogged!

“We need to play it by ear. She might be kicking and bucking in five days, because she is a bit like that. If she does we might think about it.”

“She will stay in training, all being well, and the main target will be the Arc next year.

“We had a discussion about supplementing her this year. It was tongue in cheek, or maybe it wasn’t. If I had known Love wasn’t running maybe I would have pushed even harder to supplement her.

“She was really well – and receiving weight from the older horses, she would have gone quite far. I’m not saying she would have won, but I think she would not have been far away. Anyway, it’s water under the bridge.”

Menuisier recalled how he came to acquire the filly for 40,000 euros at Arqana August Yearling Sales in France.

“She was unsold in the ring,” he said. “I knew the breeders, and they asked me to look at her. I loved the way she walked – she was light on her feet, like a spider. She was such a good mover.

“On the same day, Chris Wright sold the top lot to Godolphin – I went to congratulate him, and the discussion went on to something else.

“I told him about this filly – saying she didn’t look much, because she was a backward filly, but once she’s come together she could be a good purchase.

“They only wanted 40,000 euros and he said ‘OK – if you like her, have her vetted, and buy her’. And that’s what we did.”

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