David Menuisier is confident he has recruited the perfect Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe jockey in Olivier Peslier for his big-race hope Wonderful Tonight.
Menuisier announced on Tuesday afternoon that four-time Arc winner Peslier will replace William Buick – who is highly likely to be required for Adayar or Hurricane Lane – on his dual Group One heroine.
The Sussex-based trainer also confirmed that “in an ideal world” he hopes his fellow Frenchman will be able to ride Wonderful Tonight in the two races he will schedule before her big date at ParisLongchamp in October.
The first of those may well be in the Yorkshire Oaks this month – although Wonderful Tonight already has several other options in France and Ireland in August and September.
Menuisier said of former French champion jockey Peslier: “I think he is one of the best in the business.
“He has the experience on his side, and he’s ridden the filly as a two-year-old when he won on her at Saint-Cloud.
“The plan was to keep him on last year. But I think it was a fracture of the jaw that sidelined him, so when she went to Longchamp (initially for the Prix de Thiberville last July) I had to use somebody else.
“Tony Piccone rode her – and because he rode her well, we kept the continuity.
“But Tony Piccone has gone to Hong Kong, and won’t be back until October – and we felt it would be better to use somebody who, first of all, won the Arc several times.
“He’s also ridden (in France) all year, and knows Longchamp like the back of his hand.”
It was obvious, after Wonderful Tonight rubber-stamped her Arc credentials with victory in Saturday’s Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood, that she would need a new jockey for the Arc, where Godolphin number one Buick will be needed by his retained owners.
Menuisier had no hesitation in contacting Peslier.
He said: “I’ve known Oliver for 10 years. He’s a friend, and I trust him 110 per cent to do the job.
“Who wouldn’t be keen (to ride Wonderful Tonight)? She has a live chance – well, we feel she’s a live chance, in the Arc.
“Obviously he’s delighted to have been called up.”
The Group One Yorkshire Oaks may well be the four-year-old’s next race, on August 19, and the hope is that Peslier will be able to ride her from then on.
“It’s part of the plan,” added Menuisier.
“He’s made himself available to ride the filly wherever she goes.
“Thinking of the big one down the line, I think it would be good if he could have sat on her at least once and, in an ideal world, twice before the Arc.”
Wonderful Tonight’s interim targets are still being fine-tuned.
“We need to play it by ear, but we hope she will run in August and September,” said Menuisier.
“I’m thinking of York. I’m (also) thinking of the Prix Romanet, which I think closes tomorrow. The Romanet and the (Prix de) Pomone are both run on the same day at Deauville (August 22).
“She’ll go where we think the ground is best and where we think the races are most winnable without over-exerting ourselves – which is what we did in the Lillie Langtry.
“I don’t want the filly to have too many hard battles before the big day – so she’ll get to the race as fresh as she can, knowing that we’re not having a summer break.”
Wonderful Tonight has existing entries already in the Irish St Leger and Irish Champion Stakes next month, and Menuisier added: “I’m not writing anything off.
“In September, she is entered at the Curragh, and she’s entered at Leopardstown.
“The Curragh option is probably unlikely, the Irish Leger, after the Lillie Langtry – because (Buick) felt that the stamina was stretched.
“But the Leopardstown option is a possible one, then the (Prix) Vermeille obviously – and one race you can’t write off is the (Prix) Foy, because there’s a chance the colts’ and geldings’ (older) division could be much weaker than the fillies’ division this year.”