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Menuisier searching for successor to former star Wonderful Tonight

David Menuisier has a high hopes for a handful of exciting three-year-olds as he looks to find his next Group winner after the retirement of top-class racemare Wonderful Tonight.

The bay won six times from 11 runs and took Group Two honours in the Hardwicke Stakes and the Lillie Langtry and enjoyed Group One successes in the Prix de Royallieu and the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

A fetlock injury halted her career in September last year and she has since been covered by Frankel, with owner Christopher Wright reserving the name ‘Frankly Wonderful’ for the foal the pairing will hopefully produce.

Menuisier reports the five-year-old to be happy and well in her new career and is hopeful he may be lucky enough to train her first foal when the time arrives.

“I was sent a photo a few days ago and she looks absolutely marvellous, she’s well over her problems. I know that she was covered by Frankel about two weeks ago, but I haven’t heard the results of any scans yet,” he said.

Wonderful Tonight after winning the Lillie Langtry Stakes
Wonderful Tonight after winning the Lillie Langtry Stakes (John Walton/PA)

“I know that she’s settled in really well to her new life and environment.

“It would be a dream come true if Frankly Wonderful, whether it’s a colt or filly, was coming to my yard. It would be a fantastic honour.”

Naturally Wonderful Tonight’s retirement left a void in Menuisier’s team, but the trainer has an exciting cohort of young horses that he hopes can develop into stakes performers this season.

One such horse is Lionel, a colt by Lope De Vega and out of Group Two winner Gretchen who took the 2015 Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster on her last career start before retirement.

Lionel is the first of the mare’s offspring to take to the track and made his debut at Newbury in October, finishing second by three-quarters of a length to Roger Charlton’s Zain Nights.

The Berkshire venue is likely to be the scene of the three-year-old’s seasonal comeback, where he will contest a one-mile-three-furlong maiden.

“He is likely to go to Newbury, that’s at the top of our list for where he will start,” Menuisier said.

“There’s no doubt that he will stay, what’s interesting is what he can do between one-mile-two (furlongs) and whatever the limit is.

“We’ll see how good he is. We don’t know because he is very unexposed, he ran last year but he was only just starting to work at that point.

“There was very early promise, so it will be very interesting to see how he develops throughout the season.”

Menuisier also has a promising filly called Ottilien, who made three starts last term including an Ascot debut, a second-placed run in a Fontainebleau maiden and a victory in a mile-and-a-quarter contest at Saint-Cloud.

The reasoning behind those French runs was to claim the financial incentives available to owners of French-bred horses and Menuisier will target more meetings across the Channel this term for the same reason.

“She is likely to have a few outings in France rather than here,” he said.

David Menuisier has high hopes for the season ahead
David Menuisier has high hopes for the season ahead (Edward Whitaker/PA)

“She is actually in on Tuesday in a class one race (Prix Durban), there’s a couple of Group Threes and potentially a Listed race as well in April.

“It all depends on the weather for her as she wants soft ground. Being French-bred, she will be campaigned mainly in France in the spring and we’ll see how good she is.

“She might also travel to Ireland to try to get the ground. I’m not saying we won’t see her at all in England but, being French-bred, the object is to try to get the owners’ premiums. That’s why we are trying to campaign her there.”

Menuisier may also plan a French campaign for the Siyouni colt Sir Bob Parker, who is out of Group Three winner Pacifique and is also eligible for the premiums.

“Similar to Ottilien, being French-bred I will try to campaign him as much as I can in France,” said Menuisier.

“He’s actually in next week, that might come too soon, but he’s in a maiden over one-mile-two.

“He has been entered in the Dante, he’s a blank canvas and a very similar type to Lionel.”

The bay made one start last term as a two-year-old, finishing second to Andre Fabre’s Jasperoid over a mile at Saint-Cloud.

“He came to hand quite late last year. When he ran in France, with a bit more experience he would have won quite cosily, he was beaten by greenness more than the opposition that day,” Menuisier said of the run.

“He didn’t blow for more than two minutes afterwards, it was literally a canter round for him and this is why we feel he could be very useful.

“How useful he is is for him to write the story. He’s been training really well.”

Both Sir Bob Parker and Lionel have entries for the Dante, the Derby and the Irish Derby.

“Him and his peer, Lionel, have all the big fancy entries you can think of, now it’s for them to prove themselves,” said Menuisier.

“Hopefully they live up to the hope and the promise.”

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