David Menuisier is relying on Thundering Blue to give him the perfect late birthday present on what could be his swansong in the tote Foundation Stakes at Goodwood.
The globetrotting seven-year-old may bring the curtain down on his glittering career, depending on how he performs, in Wednesday’s mile-and-a-quarter Listed prize – which will be his first start in Britain in more than a year.
Although Thundering Blue failed to beat a rival on his comeback in a Group Three at Deauville in August, Menuisier – who turned 40 earlier this month – is confident plenty of his old ability remains intact.
He said: “Thundering Blue has been training well, and we’ve been happy with him. I won’t be anxious, because I just want the horse to go and enjoy himself.
“He ran well on his last visit behind Elarqam there last year over the same trip. I can’t see any negatives.
“If he could run well and into a place it would make my day. It would be the best late birthday present. I would give anything for that to happen.
“He has to retire at some stage – hopefully it won’t be tomorrow, but it all depends on how the race pans out.”
Giving the Pulborough trainer further encouragement that Thundering Blue still has what it takes to be competitive were the words he received from three-time champion jockey Ryan Moore after his seasonal comeback.
He added: “Ryan Moore has ridden a few good ones in his time – and although that was his first time on him, he knows the horse, having finished behind him a few times.
“I popped the question and said ‘are we wasting our time’ and he said definitely not because the engine is intact and the wheels are still there. He said not to give up on him, because he is still a nice horse.
“It was great a rider like him who said that – (so) as you know, the words are genuine.
Ralph Beckett is keeping his fingers crossed enough rain falls at the Sussex track to allow Air Pilot the chance to try and become the third horse to claim back-to-back victories in the race.
He said: “He needs a drop of rain, so we will see what happens. He went home during lockdown, and it took a while to get him back again.
“He worked really well the other day, and he seems in good shape. He has been a star for the yard.
“We are just hoping he gets some rain, so he can have another crack at the race.
Despite Air Pilot being in the twilight of his career at the age of 11, Beckett has not ruled out running him beyond the end of this season.
He added: “It all depends on how he runs – if he runs well we might go on with him next year.
“He is like part of the furniture and will be missed when he has gone.
“He just loves his work, and that is one of the reasons he is still in training, because he is much more happy doing that than being out in a field.”
Roger Charlton is confident Bullfinch, who will be bidding to complete a four-timer, will have no problems handling the undulations at the track on his return to turf.
He said: “Obviously this is both a step up in trip and class, but clearly he is a horse that is progressing. He is well-balanced, so Goodwood should be fine.
“He has only run on turf once before, and that was in unsuitable heavy ground at Newbury.
“I’m pleased with the way he is working – and he is rated similar to those he is running against – but he has to step forward again.”
The field is completed by Desert Icon (William Haggas), High End (Saeed bin Suroor), Mythical Magic (Charlie Appleby), Anna Nerium (Richard Hannon) and Oriental Mystique (David Simcock).