Tag Archive for: David Menuisier

Classic hopes fuelling winter dreams for Menuisier

David Menuisier can head into the winter dreaming of big-race glory in 2024 thanks to the recent exploits of some of his star two-year-olds.

By his own admission the Frenchman has endured a tough campaign, with winners hard to find throughout the height of the Flat season.

However, some of the younger members of Menuisier’s Coombelands string, such as Sunway and Devil’s Point, have come to the fore at the backend of the campaign as the handler finishes the 2023 turf season on a real high.

Sunway and Oisin Murphy
Sunway and Oisin Murphy (PA)

Menuisier said: “It’s great and we’ve had a bit of a tough time with the older horses, especially the three-year-olds throughout the season, so it’s nice that the two-year-olds have kind of saved the year for us and especially in such a fashion.

“We knew we had a nice bunch but it’s hard to predict, even six weeks ago, that they are as good as they actually are.”

After Sunway provided Menuisier with just his fourth Group One triumph when landing the Criterium International, the handler returned to his homeland to plunder more big-race glory just five days later when crack two-year-old fillies War Chimes and Tamfana won the Prix Isonomy and Prix Miesque respectively.

A day later Devil’s Point capped a fine week for the trainer when finishing a brave second to Ancient Wisdom in Doncaster’s Futurity Stakes, a performance which thrilled Menuisier.

Devil’s Point is an exciting colt for David Menuisier
Devil’s Point is an exciting colt for David Menuisier (Adam Davy/PA)

“In all honesty the French race worked out really well – the Thomas Bryon that he ran in as a prep,” explained Menuisier.

“That race wasn’t really run to suit and the ground was not quite as soft as it should be for him to show his true potential, so we felt we would find a bit more improvement in the Futurity and he did.

“It was very satisfactory and he was just beaten by a better horse on the day. There is not much more you can say, it was absolutely fantastic.”

Menuisier is yet to taste Classic success but he appears to have plenty of ammunition tucked away at his West Sussex base for 2024 and can now savour the prospect of aiming his high-class youngsters at some of racing’s biggest races when they return to the track next season.

“We’ve had a tough season so I think it is important until Christmas to stay on a bit of a cloud and then from January onwards we can start working out plans for all of them,” he said.

“It is hard to tell how much more improvement they are going to find but War Chimes looks like a lovely middle-distance stayer and Tamfana could be literally anything. She has won over seven furlongs and she won her maiden over a mile. She’s got speed and should stay a bit and is very exciting.

“Obviously the two colts, Sunway and Devil’s Point, are ones for the Classics as well and we have some other horses that we won with and put away like Goodwood Odyssey and Ashariba and a few more that have run only once or not at all that will come to hand next season.

“It is exciting and we don’t want to get too excited too soon, but it is time to reflect and enjoy now and hopefully things go according to plan and we can get excited again next spring. I’m looking forward to it.”

Menuisier back in Group One business with Sunway

Sussex-based handler David Menuisier enjoyed a happy homecoming as Sunway upset highly-regarded French juvenile Alcantor in the Group One Criterium International at Saint-Cloud.

Oisin Murphy made good use of Sunway throughout the mile contest and forged ahead of Aidan O’Brien’s front-runner Navy Seal two furlongs out.

Andre Fabre’s odds-on favourite Alcantor and Mickael Barzalona threw down a strong challenge in the latter stages, but Murphy had left a bit up his sleeve and the 43-10 chance galloped on strongly up the favoured stands side.

French-born Menuisier, who began his career as assistant to Criquette Head-Maarek in Chantilly, tasted success at the top level with Wonderful Tonight at ParisLongchamp and on British Champions Day at Ascot three years ago and was delighted to enjoy another big win.

“Everything went according to plan,” said the trainer. “We wanted him to be up there in second or third, Oisin was able to give him a breather turning for home and then when he asked him to go, he really kicked on.”

Sunway impressed when making a winning debut at Sandown and bounced back from a below-par effort in a hot race at Ascot to split Iberian and subsequent Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere scorer Rosallion in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.

“He’s a very good horse, he ran well in the Champagne and Oisin really struggled to pull him up after the line that day, so we knew he would stay on well.

“It’s fantastic to have another Group One win and I’m also grateful and so happy for his breeder Guy Pariente, who has supported us and given us a real boost.

“One thing at a time, so we’ll enjoy this victory, but we can now go into the winter dreaming about what might happen next season.”

The son of Galiway, who is co-owned by Pariente, Thomas Lines and Qatar Racing, was cut to as short as 14-1 from 40-1 with Paddy Power for next year’s Qipco 2000 Guineas and introduced into their Derby betting at 33-1.

Winning jockey Murphy told Sky Sports Racing: “He was very relaxed and he’s trained really well into this.

“He won on debut at Sandown, disappointed at Ascot, I don’t know what went wrong, nothing came to light, then he freshened up and ran very well at Doncaster over a trip short of his best.

“Today, he was perfect. I was quietly confident and it’s great because Guy Pariente bred him, he owned the mare and the stallion, Sheikh Fahad and Qatar Racing bought into the horse and Thomas Lines is also involved.

“And it’s also great for David Menuisier, who thought he was very good from early on and today he was brilliant.

“I had a high opinion of him and obviously recommended him plenty and was glad he was able to do that. They have to have the mind to do that and he most certainly does.

“He has a bright future. The rail helped but I’ve no doubt I was on the best horse and the runner-up is a good horse as well.

“He’ll stay further, he’s a brother of (Champion Stakes winner) Sealiway, whose distance was probably 10 furlongs, and I’ve no doubt this fellow will go a furlong or two more.”

Menuisier and Murphy teamed up again to land the Group Three Prix Belle De Nuit when Caius Chorister made all in fine fashion over a mile and six furlongs at 47-10.

Colourful winning owner Clive Washbourn declared: “What a day for David. It’s absolutely fantastic.

“I bred this girl and her dam Corpus Chorister is still the two-mile record holder at Beverley. Next year, she’ll take all the beating in the (Ascot) Gold Cup and the King will have to put up with my celebrations!”

Washbourn is now hoping Menuisier can provide him with a Group One success in Saturday’s Kameko Futurity Trophy Stakes at Doncaster via Devil’s Point.

“I went up to his yard to drop off some champagne at Christmas and he pointed to a horse and said, ‘this is a machine’, and it was Sunway, who was brilliant today,” added Washbourn.

“But then I bought a horse called Devil’s Point and he said they were quite good together.

“We were beaten by today’s second Alcantor here in a Group Three, but next Saturday, if you think this is a celebration, when we do everyone in the Futurity, which we will, the celebrations are going to be huge.”

Migration back for Balmoral bid

Migration will aim to land his second major handicap of the season off top weight when he runs in the Balmoral at Ascot on Champions Day.

Trained by David Menuisier, the seven-year-old won the Lincoln at Doncaster on the opening weekend of the season and is aiming to bookend his campaign in fine style.

He has only run once since, when failing to get involved in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown, but Menuisier hopes the return to testing ground and, more importantly, a big field will see him recapture his best.

“We gave him a break in the summer to try to run him in this race. We know he loves the big fields and it looks like he will have his ground, so we are looking forward to it,” said Menuisier.

“We know he can carry big weights and the hustle and bustle of the big handicaps suit him, so we’ve aimed at it.

“Look, off his weight I’m not saying he’s going to go and win, but I know he’ll give his best and we’ll see where he ends up. I’m not a statistician but I assume winning handicaps off 113 has not been done very often. Hopefully class rises to the top.”

Sunway is on course for an outing at Saint-Cloud
Sunway is on course for an outing at Saint-Cloud (PA)

It could be a big weekend for Menuisier who is sending Champagne Stakes second Sunway to France for a Group One, though whether he runs in the Criterium de Saint-Cloud over 10 furlongs or the Criterium International over a mile is not quite decided.

He said: “The plan is for Sunway to run I’m just not sure which race yet. I’ve left him in both races to have a look but sadly it looks as if all the other trainers did the same!

“It’s pretty much the same horses in both races. I think our preference is to run him over a mile but I have little doubt he would stay 10 furlongs.

“I’ll have a chat with the owner but at this stage we’re favouring the mile. His Doncaster run was good and the form, with Rosallion winning the Lagardere and Mountain Bear winning a black type race in Ireland, has worked out.”

Menuisier sets out Saint-Cloud options for Sunway

David Menuisier’s Sunway has Group One targets in France after his valiant second-placed run in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster.

The two-year-old, who is a full brother to 2021 Champion Stakes hero Sealiway, came into the race with something to prove after coming home sixth in the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot in July.

He was beaten 15 and a half lengths by Richard Hannon’s Rosallion that day when starting at 5-2 after making a convincing winning debut at Sandown earlier in the term.

Rosallion also lined up on Town Moor and was the 4-5 favourite, but it was Charlie Hills’ Iberian who strode to a two-length success as Sunway came home the runner-up and Hannon’s contender was a further length and a half behind.

The run could now pave the way to Group One level for Sunway as Menuisier intends to target the horse at either the one-mile Criterium International or the 10-furlong Criterium de Saint-Cloud.

“He ran really good race, he redeemed himself and that was important, for him to show what he’s truly capable of,” he said of the Champagne Stakes effort.

“He is definitely a really nice horse, he showed that he belongs to the elite.

“He is likely to go to France for one of the Criteriums next month, either the Criterium International or the Criterium de Saint-Cloud – one over one mile and one over one-mile-two.

“Mainly it is the going that will decide, because at that time of year you don’t really know what sort of ground you’re going to get.

“The main target will be the mile race, I think that is probably the most suitable for him at the moment.”

Devil’s Point during the Virgin Bet Solario Stakes
Devil’s Point during the Virgin Bet Solario Stakes (Adam Davy/PA)

Also headed to Saint-Cloud is stablemate Devil’s Point, last seen finishing third when beaten a length and a half in the Solario Stakes at Sandown earlier in the month.

The Prix Thomas Bryon now awaits, a seven-furlong Group Three, after which the Futurity Trophy Stakes at Doncaster will come into the picture.

“Devil’s Point is good, he’s got an entry in the Group Three at Saint-Cloud on Friday and that’s where he’s likely to go,” Menuisier said.

“It’s likely to be a stepping stone to potentially the Futurity Trophy at the end of October.”

Plenty of options for Devil’s Point after encouraging Sandown run

All options are open for David Menuisier’s Devil’s Point following his promising run in the Virgin Bet Solario Stakes on Saturday.

The New Bay colt was fifth when only beaten a length and a half on debut at Sandown in July, a competitive race that was won by Sir Michael Stoute’s Starlore.

He then headed to Ffos Las and was a taking winner, coming home four and half lengths to the good with a subsequent scorer behind him in Ralph Beckett’s Going The Distance.

Those efforts prompted a step up to Group Three level on his return to Sandown, where he encountered Starlore for a second time alongside Charlie Appleby’s Aablan.

Devil’s Point, a 4-1 shot, rocked backwards as the stalls opened and was left with ground to cover at the rear of the field, but once finding room in the final furlong he began to pick off his rivals and was a fast-finishing third after a less than ideal passage through the race.

Devil’s Point during the Virgin Bet Solario Stakes
Devil’s Point during the Virgin Bet Solario Stakes (Adam Davy/PA)

Menuisier was pleased with the run and believes the chestnut will take a step forward from it, meaning none of his autumn entries in either France or England are ruled out – with the Champagne Stakes, the Royal Lodge, the Dewhurst and the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere all possibles.

The trainer said of Sandown: “It was a promising run.

“There wasn’t much pace in the race, unfortunately he couldn’t really make his own luck.

“He was stuck on the rail there so he had to suffer the slow pace from the others.

“He ran a stormer, I wouldn’t swap him for anything else in the race. He will definitely come on for the race and the experience.”

Of the next step for Devil’s Point he added: “I don’t know at the moment, he only ran a few days ago and all of the options are open, really, and there will be some options in France also.

“He will also improve for a step up in trip too, he should stay a mile any day of the week. He’s an exciting prospect for the future.”

Menuisier sees ground conditions as key to Heartache Tonight

David Menuisier’s Heartache Tonight will seek soft ground as she returns from a brief break at the height of summer.

The three-year-old is an own sister to the stable’s former star Wonderful Tonight, a multiple Group One winner who also ran in the colours of Christopher Wright.

Wright and Andy MacDonald jointly own Heartache Tonight, who won her sole two-year-old start and then kicked off this season with a third-placed run in the Group Three Prix Cleopatre at Chantilly.

A good fourth, beaten only a length and a half, followed in the Group One Prix Saint-Alary, after which she headed to Epsom for the Oaks as a 28-1 shot.

There she ran a gallant race and led for a spell before losing ground two furlongs from home and eventually finishing sixth on ground quicker than ideal.

Connections have given her an easier time since but she is limbering up to run again and has a range of entries on both sides of the Channel.

After incredibly wet weather the ground is drying again, however, and Menuisier will seek cut in the turf when he decides which race to target.

“Heartache Tonight is absolutely fine, she’s had a break and is back in training,” he said.

“She’s entered on Sunday in the Prix Minerve at Deauville, but we’re looking at the weather forecast and I’m not sure if there’s enough rain for the weekend.

“She’s also in on the 19th (of August) in the Prix De Pomone at Deauville and possibly also in the Galtres at York and the Yorkshire Oaks.

“We’re not too sure where she’s going next, where the rains falls in an ideal world!”

Of the Epsom run he added: “She ran really well considering how quick the ground was.

“She had them pretty stretched out at the bottom of the hill and then the ground was just too quick for her to quicken again, but it was a very good display and I was really happy with her.”

Sunway looking to build on impressive first win at Ascot

David Menuisier’s exciting Sunway could have his potential put to the test at Ascot on Saturday in the Flexjet Pat Eddery Stakes.

The son of Galiway created a taking impression when winning at Sandown on debut and is now being thrust straight into Listed company as one of 17 possibles for the seven-furlong Listed event.

Since his Sandown bow, Qatar Racing have become involved on the ownership side alongside Guy Pariente and Thomas Lines and his handler is keen to see how the colt has progressed from his first start.

“It has been the plan pretty much since Sandown and the rain that has arrived shouldn’t be a problem,” said Menuisier.

“The horse is well and al being well between now and Saturday he will line-up.

“I am not quite sure of the form of the race at Sandown being critical, but he did it in good style and we hope he has improved and he can put on another good display.

“Qatar Racing have decided to buy into the horse which is always very flattering, so lets hope he can run up to the standard they are expecting.”

Charlie Appleby has won this contest the last two years and could be represented by the unbeaten Ancient Wisdom, while Charlie Hills’ Iberian skipped the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket and looked a youngster full of potential in his Newbury debut.

Aidan O’Brien could saddle three, while the Ballydoyle handler could also be represented by Brighter in the Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes.

Other names to note amongst the 17 entries for that Group Three contest include George Boughey’s Albany third Soprano and recent Anglesey Stakes scorer Kairyu.

Jonathan Portman could also be represented by Cry Fiction who showed plenty of greenness when second in the Empress Fillies’ Stakes but is backed to improve with experience by her handler.

He said: “We’re very happy with how she has been progressing. She was still a bit green at Newmarket having only had the one run.

“She’s come on again for that run and we’re looking forward to running her again and I think she deserves a go.”

A maximum of 19 will head to post for the Longines Valiant Stakes where Ed Walker’s Random Harvest could attempt to bounce back from her disappointing run in the Falmouth Stakes over a course and distance she finished second over during Royal Ascot in the Duke of Cambridge.

Walker also has Sea Of Thieves and Rose Pick entered as he bids to add to his 2021 victory in the race, while Random Harvest’s regular rivals Prosperous Voyage and Grande Dame also feature amongst the list of possible runners.

Karl Burke’s Electric Eyes and Johnny Murtagh’s unbeaten Cadeau Belle will fly the flag for the three-year-olds in the Group Three event, while in the Moet & Chandon International Stakes, defending champion Fresh and Bunbury Cup winner Biggles are the headline acts as 36 stood their ground for the fiercely-contested handicap at Monday’s confirmation stage.

Menuisier favouring French option for Heartache Tonight

David Menuisier will keep the Goodwood door ajar for Heartache Tonight, although the talented filly is more likely to run in France next month.

The Pulborough-based trainer has left the daughter of Recorder in the Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes, although as she builds up to a possible Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe tilt, the three-year-old is being primed for a return to action at Deauville.

Owned by Chris Wright and Andy MacDonald, Heartache Tonight was a close-up fourth to Jannah Rose in the Group One Prix-Saint Alary at ParisLongchamp in May, before finishing sixth to Soul Sister in the Oaks.

Menuisier stated that he would then give her a summer break and look towards the autumn, but she was handed a surprise entry for a possible step up to a mile and three-quarters for the Group Two Lillie Langtry on August 5.

However, Menuisier insists it is only a speculative option and said: “We put her in the race just to have a look at it, but without any real interest at the moment.

“It wouldn’t be a target as such. Unless circumstances turn really favourable, it wouldn’t really be on the radar. We have kept her in to have a look, but we’ve no real interest.

“The circumstances would be softer ground and if the field was absolutely shattered and then you wouldn’t have to maybe think about it.

“It goes without staying she should stay, there is a lot of prize money and it would be an interesting race to win. That’s why we have kept her in.”

Heartache Tonight also holds an entry in the Yorkshire Oaks later next month, but the trainer is favouring a Group Three contest over an extended mile and a half for her return.

Menuisier added: “The main target would be to come back in the Prix Minerve at Deauville on August 13.”

Break on the cards for Heartache Tonight

Heartache Tonight will be given a break following her sixth-placed finish to Soul Sister in Betfred Oaks, with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe her ultimate aim in the autumn.

The David Menuisier-trained daughter of Recorder has shown a penchant for softer surfaces in the past, but encountered quick ground for the first time in her career at Epsom.

Chris Wright owns the filly with Andy MacDonald and she is a half-sister to Wright’s dual Group One winner Wonderful Tonight.

Having finished a close-up fourth to Jannah Rose on her first attempt against Group One opposition in the Prix Saint-Alary at ParisLongchamp last month, the Pulborough-based handler was far from disappointed with her latest run under Cristian Demuro.

“I can’t say she didn’t handle the course or the ground, because she came down the hill beautifully and what have you. She is not jarred up or anything,” said Menuisier.

“She is like her sister – when they run on that ground, they don’t find the gears that do they when running on soft.

“They do quicken, but they don’t quicken as much as the rest of them. On soft they do find the gears, on this (good to firm) ground, you can’t say they don’t handle it, they are just a stone below. Cristian looked after her as well.”

Heartache Tonight will bypass Royal Ascot, where she holds an entry in the Ribblesdale Stakes, and will now be campaigned towards Europe’s biggest all-aged middle-distance prize.

“She won’t go to the Ribblesdale, she will have a mini-break and we will prepare her for the autumn,” added Menuisier.

“It’s always been the plan. The Oaks we needed to try, just in case. But we have always said she is a filly for the autumn really.

“The main thing we are focussed on is the Arc. She will have to prove she is worthy of that. She has always looked like she needs a mile and a half. She is bred for an Arc – and I’m due one as well!”

The handler’s Royal Ascot team will be a small one this year and much will depend on the ground, with recent runaway Nottingham maiden winner Mysterious Love under consideration for the Sandringham Handicap.

Menuisier said: “If they get a little bit of rain we might run her. We think she is a black type filly, but she wants slow ground, so we will have to be patient with her.

“It is a matter of being patient. It is too easy to do the wrong thing, especially at this time of the year. We could also potentially run Belloccio in the Duke of Edinburgh as well.”

Menuisier expects Heartache Tonight to go the Oaks distance

David Menuisier is confident a step up in trip can help Heartache Tonight hit the big time when she races in the UK for the first time in the Betfred Oaks on Friday.

A €160,000 purchase as a yearling, she is a half-sister to two-time Group One-winner Wonderful Tonight, Menuisier’s former stable star.

The daughter of Recorder now has the chance to step out of her sibling’s shadow and she heads to Epsom with an encouraging book of form in France to her name, placing in the Prix Cleopatre and beaten less than two lengths when a close-up fourth in the Prix Saint-Alary last time out.

Despite bringing that Group One form to the table, Heartache Tonight is still available for the Oaks at odds as big as 33-1.

But her handler is not fussed by her outsider status, with Cristian Demuro set to continue his association with the filly having ridden her in all three starts so far.

“I don’t mind being overlooked, that is the story of my life, but it won’t stop her from running well,” said Menuisier.

“It was a great effort in the Prix Saint-Alary and she has been craving the step up to a mile and a half. We decided to keep her at one-mile-two to try to gain more experience and more tactical speed and we are delighted so far.

“Cristian Demuro will come and ride. We get on well and he’s our go-to man when we go to France. He absolutely loves the filly and the schedule wasn’t too busy for him, so he’s really delighted to keep the ride on her.”

So far, all of Heartache Tonight’s appearances have come on ground described as soft or slower, but Menuisier is hopeful she might not be as ground dependant as her illustrious mud-loving half-sister ahead of her bid for Classic honours.

“We’re just hoping the ground isn’t too quick, we’re hoping for genuine good ground,” continued Menuisier.

“She seems different to the half-sister – she was really designed for soft ground and had a very high knee action.

Royal Ascot winner Wonderful Tonight was a stable star for David Menuisier
Royal Ascot winner Wonderful Tonight was a stable star for David Menuisier (David Davies/PA)

“Heartache tonight is a bit more elegant, she moves much better, so we like to believe she might not need it as soft. Obviously she will handle soft/heavy conditions later in the year probably better than most, but if she could handle quicker ground then that is a definite plus.”

The handler also feels her performance in the Prix Saint-Alary shows she has the potential to match Wonderful Tonight’s achievements on track.

Menuisier added: “At the moment she is showing the right signs and is a little bit above Wonderful Tonight as she would have been unable to perform good over one-mile-two at Group One level in the spring.

“So whether the finished article will be ahead of the sister, it would be lovely to think so, but she has a serious challenge ahead of her, so we will see.”

Migration campaign hinges on handicap mark

David Menuisier is awaiting the handicapper’s assessment of Migration’s victory in the Lincoln at Doncaster on Saturday before considering plans for the rest of the season.

The burden of top-weight proved no barrier to success for the seven-year-old in the traditional feature on the first day of the British Flat season as he was produced with a withering late run by Benoit De La Sayette to emerge triumphant.

The win came off a mark of 107 and Menuisier will be better placed to scour the programme book for future options once the assessor has had his say on Tuesday.

“He has come out of the race well and all is good,” said the Sussex-based Frenchman.

“We’ll see what the handicapper does, but he is seven and doesn’t need to run 15 times this year.

“It’s all up in the air really. I think there’s a decent chance handicaps will be out, but I can’t completely discard races like the Hunt Cup (at Royal Ascot).”

David Menuisier at Doncaster on Saturday
David Menuisier at Doncaster on Saturday (Nigel French/PA)

While Migration’s Lincoln success came over a mile in testing conditions, he has previously won over a mile and a quarter on good ground at York, suggesting he is not reliant on soft ground.

Menuisier added: “I think he’s quite versatile. I actually thought in the past he was probably better over further than a mile, but obviously that was a career-best at the weekend.

“Maybe the handicapper was on holiday and didn’t see him! It goes without saying handicaps are going to be a long shot now and he might have to go to the next level in a Listed race or a Group Three.”

Migration provides De La Sayette with second Lincoln success

Benoit De La Sayette produced top-weight Migration with a perfectly-timed challenge to claim his second victory in the Pertemps Network Lincoln at Doncaster.

Previously successful in the traditional feature on the first day of the British Flat season aboard Haqeeqy in 2021, De La Sayette was crowned champion apprentice last term and it is not hard to see why.

Migration, trained by David Menuisier, won valuable handicaps at Goodwood and York in the summer of 2021 but only made it to the track three times last season.

Making his first appearance since finishing fourth in a Listed event at Newmarket in October, the seven-year-old was an 18-1 chance for his Town Moor return and benefited from the coolest of cool rides from his young rider.

Entering the final furlong it looked like proven mud lover Baradar might emerge triumphant after travelling smoothly into contention, with the well supported Awaal also right in the mix.

But having raced at the rear of the field for much of the straight-mile contest, Migration powered home against the stands’ rail and had a length- and-a-quarter in hand over Awaal at the line.

De La Sayette said: “He’s a horse that likes to come from off the pace. He came from off the pace in the Balmoral on Champions Day but I could never find the gaps. He finished off that race really strong, so we thought we’d try the same tactics today.

“The Lincoln is the Lincoln and it is very hard to find the gaps, so I’m very happy I found them at the right time. He really ran on in the last furlong and hit the line strong.

“To carry top-weight in that ground, it was a great performance. I ride a lot for Mr Menuisier, we have a good connection, and he told me to just do the same as at Ascot, as he just loves to come from off the pace. Luckily he was right.

“Last year went so well for me and to win this again, two years after winning on Haqeeqy right at the start of my career, is a fairytale.”

Menuisier said: “Not many top weights who are seven win the Lincoln but he’s so lightly raced, he doesn’t have much mileage.

“He’s been giving us the right signals all the way through so we were actually quite confident. He flies on this ground, anything from good to soft to heavy is absolutely fine.

David Menuisier saddled Migration to win the Lincoln
David Menuisier saddled Migration to win the Lincoln (Simon Cooper/PA)

“We’ll have to go into Pattern races now. He’s won that off 107 with a 3lb claim, he’ll be around 110 now, so I think that’s the end of handicaps and we’ll look at black type races – hopefully he can handle it.

“We’ll be patient anyway, because he’s very good fresh. He’s already made his money for this year and next – it’s a great way to start the season.”

Joint-trainer Simon Crisford said of the runner-up Awaal: “He’s run really well, I’m very happy with him. We’ve got a lovely horse for the rest of the season ahead of us and he likes that ground.

“It’s the name of the game and you’ve got to take it (defeat) on the chin.

“We might step him up in distance.”

Of the third-placed Baradar, trainer George Boughey said: “I’m very happy, he’s run a big race and I think seven furlongs is his ideal trip.

“He bolted up here over seven on this ground. Kevin (Stott) said he just didn’t quite see it out as well as possibly stouter-bred horses.”

Trainers and Run Style: Part 2

This is the second article in a series in which I will be looking at run style bias, writes Dave Renham. The first article was quite a general piece, although it did drill down into some of the key stats of three trainers – Eric Alston, Mark Johnston and Tom Dascombe. This follow up piece looks at success rates for trainers with front runners including breaking down the data by distance. Once again I have looked at the last eight full calendar years of data (1/1/14 to 31/12/21) including both turf and all weather racing in the UK. The focus is all race types (handicaps and non handicaps) and all distances, races with six or more runners.

Run style is all about the position a horse takes up early on in the race, normally within the first 100-200 yards. There are four basic positions a horse can adopt in a race and these are categorised on the Geegeez website as Led (4), Prominent (3), Mid Division (2) and Held Up (1). The number in brackets is the run style score that is assigned to each section.

Below is a basic breakdown of which type of horse fits which type of run style profile:

Led – horses that get to the front early or horses that dispute for the early lead often simply called (front runners);

Prominent – horses that race just behind the leader(s);

Mid Division – horses that race mid pack or just behind the mid-point;

Held up – horses that are held up at, or near the back of the field.

Run style is often linked with the word pace because the early pace shown by horses in a race determines their early position. Hence for many the words run style and pace are interchangeable.

On this site you can find plenty of run style data in both the Pace Analyser and the Query Tool. These can be found from the Tools tab anywhere on site. Additionally, each racecard has the last four run style/pace figures for each runner. Inexperienced horses may have less data as they may not have run four times.

Benchmarks: Overall strike rates for run style

To begin with I want to look at the average win percentage strike rates for all trainers / runners in terms of run style. In other words what percentage of front runners / early leaders win on average, what percentage of prominent runners win etc. Here is the breakdown:



These raw stats illustrate why run style is so important and why it staggers me that some trainers are clearly averse to sending out their runners to try and lead early.

Front runners do best at shorter distances as the graph below shows. (It should be noted that the small number of 6½f races, just 43 in total, were included in the 7f-1m data):



The advantage to front runners is very strong in sprints (5-6f) and quite potent at races up to a mile, also. The advantage is less pronounced over longer trips but those on the lead still win more often than any other of the overall run styles shown in the first chart (13.91% for leaders over 1m1f+ vs 12.3% for all prominent racers).

Data for hold up horses, as you may expect, shows the reverse. The longer the distance the more chance horses from the back of the field have of coming thorough to win:



Still, even the best strike rate for hold up horses is lower than those racing midfield overall, much lower than the prominent racer superset, and more than half as low as the early leader overall group. More materially, perhaps, the just better than 8% hit rate for hold up horses in 1m1f+ races compares highly unfavourably with the nigh on 14% rate for early leaders in the same races.


Best Front Runner Trainers: All Races

Moving on, let us look at the trainers who had the highest strike rates with their front runners in ALL races of 6+ runners (minimum 80 runs / top 30 trainers):


This table really knocks the eye out! There are some seriously impressive figures here with 14 trainers having strike rates of 25% or higher, five of them hitting 30%+.

The Win PL figures show how profitable front runners are, and that trying to find the best way of predicting them is something all punters should want to achieve.

Saeed Bin Suroor tops the list, and combining a front runner of his with a fancied runner is a potent combination as this table further illustrates:



As the table shows, bin Suroor front running favourites score nearly 54% of the time, while the top four in the betting all have good strike rates and would have produced excellent returns. Remember, all such returns shown on Geegeez are to SP. Using BOG and/or Betfair would see these figures looking even more impressive.

Best Front Runner Trainers: Non-handicap Races

Now let's drill down a level and look at the top trainer strike rates in non-handicap races only (minimum 60 runs / top 20 trainers):



There are few surprises here, with 18 of this top 20 having already appeared on the ‘All Races top 30’ list. Just David and Nicola Barron and Richard Fahey new names to the party.


Best Front Runner Trainers: Handicap Races

Onto the top 20 trainers in terms of front running strike rates in handicaps only (minimum 70 runs) and the key players are as follows:



Here we see slightly lower strike rates, but this is to be expected in handicaps where field size is generally larger (9.85 runners versus 9.26 runners in non-handicaps during the study window).

This time, there are some new names to be aware of - Chris Wall, John O’Shea, Malcolm Saunders, Julie Camacho, Stuart Kittow, Ismael Mohammad and the Coles father and son team (research based on father, Paul Cole, only).


Best Front Runner Trainers: By Race Distance

In this next section, we are going to look at different race distances; specifically, the top 10 front running trainers in terms of win strike rate in each division:

5f / 6f races

Simon Crisford, now training with his son, Ed, is the king of front-running sprinters, his speedballs that go forward immediately winning a whopping 40% of the time. Crisford is one of the more active trainers at the breeze up sales and tends to specialise in two-year-olds generally; perhaps that early education for his runners is a material component. Regardless, many of them clearly know their job from the starting stalls.

Crisford used to be racing manager for Godolphin, and the next three entries in this table are all Godolphin trainers, two of them on the payroll plus John (and Thady) Gosden.



7f / 1m races

Those familiar names appear again when the race distance ramps up a touch, though there are interlopers in the top five now. Sharing top honours with Messrs bin Suroor and Appleby, C. is William Haggas, the trio all winning at this range with around 39% of their front runners.



1m1f or longer races

As we get towards the longer distance races, the strike rates curtail somewhat - to be expected based on the overall data I shared in my introduction; and yet Saeed bin Suroor still managed to achieve a better than one-in-three win rate with early leaders in races of nine furlongs-plus. He's well clear of the wily Sir Mark Prescott and the quietly excellent David Menuisier.



Front Runner Trainer/Jockey combinations

As well as how a trainer likes his horses to be ridden, a key consideration must be the actual rider!

Here, I have collated a list of the top 50 trainer / jockey combos with front runners. For this table I have not added profit/loss data (minimum 40 races), though the A/E column may be used as a proxy (where a number above 1 implies future potential profitability).


As you might expect, there are some very strong stats here with many of the very top trainers and jockeys combining. However, perhaps of more interest are a few combinations that may have sailed under the radar, such as Channon and Bishop, Osborne and Currie, Quinn and Hart, Griffiths and Allan, Midgeley and Lee to name but five. Feel free to do your own sleuthing in the table above!

Front Runner Trainers: Led Win Rate compared with Held Up Win Rate

To finish, I would like to compare individual trainer strike rates for their front runners with the percentages for their hold up horses. Earlier in the piece we saw the average win percentage for front runners was 17.02% between 2014 and 2021 in 6+ runner flat races, while for hold up horses it was just 7.16%.

The aim of this exercise, then, is to create a 'led to held up ratio' (L:H for short) using individual trainer percentages. So, for example and using the overall figures, I divide the led percentage of 17.02 by the held up percentage of 7.16 to create the benchmark trainer L:H ratio of 2.38. From there, we can see which trainers differ markedly from the average figure.

Trainers with a high 'led to held up ratio'

This first table shows those trainers with a much higher L:H ratio. I have also included both win percentages (SR%) to aid the comparison:



Adrian Nicholls tops the list mainly due to his dreadful record with hold up horses – just 1 of the 102 such runners have won. It is also worth noting that Nicholls has a 14.3% strike rate with prominent racers which, considering his overall record, is a real stand out figure.

Phillip Makin’s stats are interesting as he has saddled 21 winners from 84 front runners (25%); compare this with his record with the other three run styles combined which has seen 31 wins from 648 runners for a strike rate of only 4.8%. It might be worth scouring the daily racecards to find potential front runners from the Makin yard.

I also will keep an eye out for other potential front runners from the following stables - Jedd O’Keeffe, Sir Mark Prescott, William Stone, Staurt Kittow, Richard Hughes, John Quinn and Karl Burke.

Trainers with a low 'led to held up ratio'

Let’s now look at the trainers with the lowest L:H ratios:



One trainer worth mentioning here is Lucy Wadham. Her flat race win strike rate across all run style categories is remarkably even:



Not many trainers whose overall SR% exceeds 10% have figures like this.


There is plenty to digest in this article and I hope it has given you plenty of food for thought. The next piece in the series will look at run style data for two-year-olds. Until then, and as always, thanks for reading.

- DR