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Wonderful Tonight retired after sustaining fetlock injury

Wonderful Tonight has been retired after suffering a condylar fracture in a fetlock on Friday morning.

Trainer David Menuisier intended to run his stable star in the Prix Foy at ParisLongchamp on Sunday – should the ground have been suitable.

However, following confirmation of the injury by vets, the decision has been taken to retire the dual Group One winner.

“She did her final piece of work this morning and was due to go tomorrow morning first thing to France,” said Menuisier.

“She cooled down fine and it wasn’t until two and a half hours later that she couldn’t put her foot on the ground. The vets took a X-ray and she has a little condylar fracture in her fetlock, so it is game over.”

Wonderful Tonight won the Prix de Royallieu at ParisLongchamp and British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot last autumn and she claimed the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot on her return in June.

Menuisier then sent her to Goodwood where she was a stylish winner of the Lillie Langtry Stakes before finishing fourth in last month’s Yorkshire Oaks on what transpired to be her final start.

“It just shows how fragile they are. She was in great form and we were just waiting to see if they got any rain at Longchamp before we made the final decision – fate decided for us really,” said Menuisier.

“I’m just thankful we had her for the time we did. I’m taking her to the hospital this afternoon and I’m just relieved we can save her.

“She’ll be a lovely broodmare and that’s all we can think of really – that and the good times that she gave us.

“Words fail me, they really do.”

Menuisier has grounds for concern ahead of Arc prep for Wonderful Tonight

David Menuisier is likely to declare Wonderful Tonight for the Prix Foy this weekend – but the current good ground at ParisLongchamp is causing him some concern.

Menuisier had his fears confirmed at York that his stable star was not as effective on a quick surface when she could only finish fourth behind Snowfall in the Yorkshire Oaks.

Wonderful Tonight is also still engaged in the Prix Vermeille, in which she would have to take on Snowfall once more. But Menuisier favours taking on the boys with his Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe contender – if the ground is suitable.

“I think we’ll declare in the Foy, but that doesn’t mean we’ll run as the ground is currently good with a read of 3.2, that’s the quick side of good which is not our cup of tea,” said Menuisier.

“If the rain doesn’t materialise, unfortunately we’ll have to bypass and go straight for the big one.

“The forecast is the same as England and Ireland this weekend. You might get lucky and get some rain or you could be unlucky and get none.

“The French do always keep the ground moist so it won’t be rock hard, but we know the filly is not the same on good ground. It wouldn’t be the right thing to do to give her a hard race before her main target of the year which is the Arc.

“If we don’t get her ground we’ll sit and wait and hope for the best on the first weekend of October.”

Last year Wonderful Tonight won the Prix de Royallieu on Arc weekend and then followed up at Ascot on Champions Day – and should conditions suit the two meetings could be on the cards once more.

“Last year it wasn’t the plan to do both meetings, but three days after Longchamp she was climbing up the trees so we sent her to Ascot,” said Menuisier.

“At the moment it is very hard to predict, but Ascot is very much on the agenda. If the weather isn’t more in our favour by the first week in October we might have to accept that we won’t run in the Arc.

“Realistically speaking if the ground is quick she won’t win. That is what we gained by running at York, we know she is not the same filly on good ground.

“I’m thrilled we ran at York because if we hadn’t we could be tempted to run this weekend on unsuitable ground which would mean she’d give herself a hard race much nearer the Arc.”

Snowfall is likely to be the star attraction at ParisLongchamp
Snowfall is likely to be the star attraction at ParisLongchamp (Nigel French/PA)

Among Wonderful Tonight’s possible opponents in the Foy are Skalleti, Broome and Deep Bond from Japan.

Snowfall is one of 12 still in the Vermeille, one of which is her stablemate Love.

Roger Varian’s Teona, Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista and Andre Fabre’s Philomene remain in the mix.

O’Brien’s Bolshoi Ballet is the leading light in the Prix Niel with The Mediterranean and Pretty Tiger among the seven left in.

Arc target intact for Wonderful Tonight – ‘more than ever’

Wonderful Tonight remains on track for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after her fourth-placed effort in the Yorkshire Oaks.

The filly was running for the third time this season, having won her previous two on her preferred soft ground – in the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and then the Lillie Langtry at Goodwood.

Her Group One double in the Fillies & Mares Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot and the Prix de Royallieu at ParisLongchamp last season demonstrated her liking for cut in the ground – but York’s turf last week was good after the forecast rain failed to fall until the final day of the meeting.

Wonderful Tonight still took her chance in the the Group One Yorkshire Oaks, and was beaten eight and a half lengths behind Aidan O’Brien’s emphatic winner Snowfall.

Trainer David Menuisier reports her to be in good form following the run and still very much on track for her principal target of the campaign back at ParisLongchamp on October 3.

“She’s absolutely fine,” he said.

“I am glad we went there, and I thought she had a good run.

“The ground made her work a bit harder than when she runs on soft ground, which is the opposite of most horses.

“That’s why I’m glad we ran. She came out of the race really well and she answered a few of our questions.

“I’m delighted that she did. For now we’ll continue to do the right thing by her and for her and hope for the best.”

Wonderful Tonight is entered in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 11, but Menuisier confirmed all roads lead to Paris in October.

“The Arc is still the target – more so than ever,” said the Sussex trainer.

Snowfall and Wonderful Tonight set for Yorkshire Oaks clash

Snowfall will face Wonderful Tonight as she bids to bring up an Oaks treble in the Darley-sponsored Yorkshire version on the Knavesmire on Thursday.

Aidan O’Brien’s Snowfall has improved out of all recognition this season for being stepped up in trip. She began her three-year-old campaign with a very impressive victory over 10 furlongs at York in the Musidora and has since won two Classics.

Firstly she powered through the rain to win the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom by 16 lengths before adding the Irish Oaks, where she triumphed by eight and a half lengths.

She will, however, face by far her toughest test to date in David Menuisier’s popular four-year-old Wonderful Tonight – herself a dual Group One-winner last season.

This term she has won the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Lillie Langtry at Goodwood.

Wonderful Tonight sets a high standard but she must concede a 9lb to Snowfall.

William Buick will maintain his partnership with Wonderful Tonight
William Buick will maintain his partnership with Wonderful Tonight (John Walton/PA)

Menuisier had alternative options in France for Wonderful Tonight, but has decided to head for the Knavesmire.

He said: “Obviously I’m hoping there’s a bit more rain, but if the ground is good we’ll give it a go.

“I’ve been in Deauville for four or five days and I’ve found that the ground is pretty chopped up. The weather forecast is not that positive for downpours and I’m sure the ground will be better in York than it is in Deauville.”

Menuisier revealed a fortnight ago that he had booked leading French jockey Olivier Peslier to ride Wonderful Tonight in October’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, with William Buick – who has steered her to her last three victories – likely to be required to ride for Godolphin.

The Newmarket-based Frenchman had hoped Peslier would also be available to partner his stable star in her prep races for Europe’s premier middle-distance contest, but Buick will be on board on Thursday.

Explaining the reasoning, Menuisier added: “William has been riding her in the UK first of all and Olivier just had a little operation yesterday (Monday) – he had to get a little chip removed in his knee.

“Olivier is actually sidelined for a week or 10 days and I’m delighted to have William on board on Thursday.”

O’Brien also runs Irish Oaks runner-up Divinely and La Joconde.

John and Thady Gosden run their Ribblesdale winner Loving Dream and she will meet Roger Varian’s Eshaada once again, who was second to her at Ascot.

Owner Kirsten Rausing runs the Ralph Beckett-trained Albaflora rather than Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista, who was second to Love in the race last year.

Andrew Balding’s Sandrine is the star attraction in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes.

Sandrine and David Probert have struck up a good relationship
Sandrine and David Probert have struck up a good relationship (David Davies/PA)

She has been very impressive to date in winning the Albany at Royal Ascot and the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket, striking up a good partnership with David Probert.

Ismail Mohammed’s Zain Claudette and the Stuart Williams-trained Desert Dreamer dominated the finish to the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot and clash again.

Hello You has her first start for David Loughnane since leaving Beckett, while Karl Burke’s Illustrating is another likely contender given the way she won at Goodwood.

Blue Cup to step up in search of Ebor riches

Royal Ascot fourth Blue Cup is on target for the Sky Bet Ebor at York next week.

The David Menuisier-trained five-year-old put up a career-best in the Wolferton Stakes and will try a trip beyond a mile and quarter for the first time in the £500,000 feature on the Knavesmire.

The Pulborough handler said: “The Ebor is a punt because he has never been further than a mile and two, but when he switches off he travels very sweet, so I don’t see why he couldn’t stay further.

“I would rather try now, before he’ll be too high in the weights, so this will be our last possible opportunity to run in a race like the Ebor.

Blue Cup powers home in the rain at Epsom
Blue Cup powers home in the rain at Epsom (Mike Egerton/Jockey Club)

“Despite the trip, you know they are going to go a good pace with 22 runners, which is why we think the Ebor is the right race to try him over further. I think it will be interesting to see how we fare.”

Formerly trained in France, Blue Cup has progressed well for his new yard and Menuisier is keen to put a line through his run in the Steventon Stakes at Newbury, where he was last of the eight runners.

He said: “The ground was too quick. He got away with it at Royal Ascot and at Newbury he travelled well, but when he came under pressure he didn’t find anything.

“He wasn’t able to put his best foot forward there, but he came out of the race absolutely fine and it turned out to be a very good race. There was no shame in defeat, especially considering he couldn’t let himself down.”

Reflecting on his Wolferton performance, Menuisier added: “The form of the race is very strong having finished just in front of Euchen Glen, who is a proven Group horse. As we all know, the Wolferton is a better race than a Listed race. I think he’ll be competitive later on in ‘normal’ Listed races and Group Threes.”

Wonderful Tonight (right) is being aimed towards the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
Wonderful Tonight (right) is being aimed towards the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (John Walton/PA)

As well as Blue Cup, Menuisier could be in action at the meeting with stable star Wonderful Tonight – and any rain would be welcome.

He said: “If the whole meeting could be run on soft ground, it would suit me well!

“In an ideal world, we could do with a bit of rain for Blue Cup. I also have Migration set to run in the mile-and-a-quarter handicap on the Saturday and Wonderful Tonight holds an entry in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks.

“We have York and a couple of French options for her. We will go wherever we think suits best.

“She’s in good form and has come out of Goodwood (Lillie Langtry Stakes) very well. If the ground is on the easy side at York, the Yorkshire Oaks is definitely a race we are bearing in mind.”

Menuisier delighted to secure services of Peslier for Wonderful Tonight

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.”

Olivier Peslier (left) is to take the big-race ride on Wonderful Tonight
Olivier Peslier (left) is to take the big-race ride on Wonderful Tonight (John Walton/PA)

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.”

Wonderful result for Menuisier as star filly stays on track for Arc bid

Wonderful Tonight added to her growing reputation when successfully conceding a penalty in the Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood.

David Menuisier’s stable star already has two Group Ones on her record and was racing in Group Two company having been a late absentee from last weekend’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on account of the fast ground.

Menuisier, who does not train too far from Goodwood at Pulborough, agonised over that decision – but with £170,000 on offer to the winner of this race just seven days later, it is hard to say he made the wrong call.

The filly thrives on soft ground, but she made life a bit harder for herself than it might have been by refusing to settle in the early stages for William Buick.

Buick – who gets married on Sunday – tracked Makawee until three furlongs out, at which point he could not see any merit in restraining his mount any further.

She quickly went three lengths clear, but on entering the final furlong began to think she had probably done enough for the day and started to idle.

Tribal Craft closed up, but the 4-5 favourite was always holding her and prevailed by two lengths.

The daughter of Le Havre was left unchanged at 8-1 for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe by Betfair, a race back down at 12 furlongs and one which Menuisier has repeatedly stated has been her big aim all season.

Menuisier said: “Wonderful Tonight won a Group One over a mile and six furlongs last year and she is a lot stronger this year. William came back in and said ‘please don’t run her over a mile and six furlongs again’. It really is the end of the world for her.

“You kind of have to break her stride the whole way as she wants to go. She probably has more speed than last year. You could probably get away with dropping her down in trip, rather than stepping her up.

The field were well strung out in behind
The field were well strung out in behind (John Walton/PA)

“She will probably have a run in the Yorkshire Oaks or at Deauville next. She will then go for the Vermeille or the Arc.”

Buick said: “She doesn’t need to be running over this trip again.

“To be honest, she races how she always does, she’s energetic and I was delighted to get a lead on her.

“We went slow and she took it up a fair way out, but she has stuck on all the well to the line.

“She’s got a bit stronger since last year and with that she’s probably got a bit quicker.

“This trip probably stretches her a bit now, but she’s very good so she’s got the job done.”

Wonderful Tonight is owned by music mogul Christopher Wright, who said: “We’d like to get a couple more runs into her before the big day if we can.

“There’s the Yorkshire Oaks, which is going to be a tough race, and depending on the ground there is the Prix Pomone at Deauville the same weekend, those are possibilities. Then I suppose you have to look at the Vermeille, which she ran in last year and was beaten a couple of lengths, but the ground was pretty fast that day.

“That is the tentative schedule – the Yorkshire Oaks or the Prix Pomone, primarily ground dependent rather than competition dependent.

“And then possibly the Prix Vermeille and then the Arc.”

Menuisier not taking anything for granted at Goodwood

David Menuisier is determined to view Wonderful Tonight’s Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes opponents with due respect as he prepares the rerouted favourite for her Group Two assignment at Goodwood.

Wonderful Tonight is sure to go off a much shorter price on Saturday than she would have if, as was initially intended, she had taken on Adayar et al in last weekend’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Quick ground scuppered that plan, with Menuisier’s dual Group One and Royal Ascot heroine a late absentee and instead set to take her chance in a nine-strong field on the final day of the Goodwood Festival.

She is the red-hot favourite, ahead of the likes of Ralph Beckett’s Albaflora, Roger Varian’s Believe In Love and Aidan O’Brien’s Irish Oaks runner-up Divinely, the only three-year-old participant.

Albaflora is second best in most bookmakers’ lists yet was six lengths adrift of Wonderful Tonight when Menuisier’s stable star made her winning return in the Hardwicke Stakes last month.

Wonderful Tonight must concede 3lb and upwards all round – but at the weights and on ratings, only Divinely has a theoretical advantage.

Menuisier said: “The opposition obviously is not the same as the King George, but they have to be respected.

“I haven’t gone into great detail as to the horses left in the race – but there’s a three-year-old carrying next to no weight, which is something you can’t discard.”

He acknowledges Wonderful Tonight has an obvious opportunity to extend her winning sequence to four, but is not inclined to take anything for granted.

“She’s the favourite and she should be, but we’re not going there thinking she’s a sure thing, nothing (else) can happen,” added the Sussex trainer.

“It’s a horse race, and we know Goodwood offers some upsets at times.

“It’s not a track where you want to be tanking too much, especially over a mile-six.

“There’s no certainty in life, apart from deaths and taxes – and that applies to any race, including this one.

“I’m not here to put a dampener on it because on sheer ability, there’s no race. But I just want to make sure everybody’s aware that we are going there very humbly.”

Wonderful Tonight and William Buick after their Royal Ascot success
Wonderful Tonight and William Buick after their Royal Ascot success (Steven Paston/PA)

Wonderful Tonight has a string of Group One entries next month and beyond – including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October – and with that potential programme in mind, Menuisier pencilled in a mid-summer target.

“She’s a bit buzzy, because she went to Ascot and had to come back,” he said.

“But other than that she’s fine. I treat the filly the same for both races. She’s well and she needs to run.

“It’s important she runs at the end of July, and it didn’t happen last weekend

“That’s the main point – she needs to run somewhere, because she’s really well and fit.

“I don’t want to deceive her by going back home and keep on working her there to get the freshness out of her without racing.”

Goodwood is beginning to dry out after the downpours early this week – which will not be to the obvious advantage of Wonderful Tonight, who has excelled in testing conditions.

Menuisier concedes she is unlikely to be right at her best on good ground, but he will not shy away from it.

“Obviously we’re still hoping for some rain before Saturday to keep it on the slow side – because it’s drying out quickly,” he said.

“Good ground would be OK – and if we don’t get any more rain I think that’s what it will be.

“I just know that on quicker ground she can’t reach the levels she does on soft, so then it is a question of opposition. On quicker ground she may not run up to (her rating of) 117.”

Divinely winning her only race to date, a Group Three at the Curragh last season
Divinely winning her only race to date, a Group Three at the Curragh last season (PA Wire)

O’Brien’s Divinely was second to stablemate Snowfall in the Irish Oaks having also run well in the Oaks at Epsom and the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot.

Given the three-year-olds have been taking full advantage of the weight-for-age concession in the big races recently, O’Brien will be hoping the 15lb she receives is enough.

“She has developed into a very solid, classy filly and now has two Classic-placed performances to her name after chasing home Snowfall in the Irish Oaks last time, albeit at a respectful distance,” her jockey Ryan Moore told Betfair.

“She operates on any ground, so the weather can do what it wants, and you have to like her chances as the only three-year-old in here getting a hefty 12lb from most, and 15lb from Wonderful Tonight.

“But you obviously have to say Wonderful Tonight is the one to beat in here after that Hardwicke win last time, even though she picked up a 3lb penalty for it, especially if we get more rain.”

Wonderful Tonight tops nine hunting Lillie Langtry prize

Wonderful Tonight will face eight rivals in Saturday’s Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood.

David Menuisier’s dual Group One winner was initially set to tackle the top level again last weekend in Ascot’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

But when forecast storms did not arrive, she was a late absentee, and Sussex trainer Menuisier quickly announced his intention to instead target Saturday’s Group Two over an extra two furlongs.

Wonderful Tonight is unbeaten in her last three starts – Group One successes in the Prix de Royallieu over this trip at ParisLongchamp and the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, as well as an emphatic victory in open company on her return to Ascot in the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting last month.

She has shown her best form to date in testing conditions – and although the going at Goodwood is beginning to dry out, it is still currently good to soft.

Among Wonderful Tonight’s opponents, all receiving 3lb or more as she again takes on her fellow fillies and mares, are Ralph Beckett’s Albaflora – re-opposing after finishing fifth in the Hardwicke.

Also in the reckoning are Roger Varian’s Believe In Love, back to form with a Leopardstown Group Three victory this month.

Varian is represented too by Cabaletta – while Aidan O’Brien’s Irish Oaks runner-up Divinely, the only three-year-old in the field, and Joseph O’Brien’s Traisha are the Irish challengers.

The improving Golden Pass, for Hugo Palmer, Andrew Balding’s Tribal Craft and David O’Meara’s course-and-distance winner Makawee complete the line-up.

The Unibet Stewards’ Cup is another traditional highlight on the final day of the Goodwood Festival.

In a maximum field of 28, Balding’s Chipchase Stakes victor Chil Chil tops the weights just above last year’s winner Summerghand, for O’Meara.

Other notable contenders among declarations include Commanche Falls, hat-trick seeking Ejtilaab – who has just joined Charlie Fellowes’ yard – Motagally, Hurricane Ivor, Fresh and Bielsa.

A high draw was long considered advantageous in the famous sprint handicap, but that has not been borne out by results of late.

Among those towards the head of the market, Ejtilaab (25) bagged a high draw this time – with Michael Dods’ Commanche Falls (23) nearby.

Summerghand won last year's Unibet Stewards’ Cup
Summerghand won last year’s Unibet Stewards’ Cup (Dan Abraham/PA)

James Fanshawe’s Fresh (16) and Hurricane Ivor (18), for William Haggas, are among those who will break from the middle.

Atalanta’s Boy (27) is an intriguing runner for David Menuisier, having started slowly on occasions – including when fancied for last year’s race.

His trainer said: “I am thinking that, if we get more rain, I have a feeling the stands’ side is where you will have to be.

“I would have preferred to have an even number, because this horse is a bit funny in the stalls. It means that he will be in the stalls longer than I’d like – but saying that, I am happy enough.”

Wonderful Tonight tops 23 in Lillie Langtry contention

Wonderful Tonight is one of 23 entries in Saturday’s Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood following her late withdrawal from the King George at Ascot last weekend.

Trainer David Menuisier banked on the weather forecasters being correct in their assertion that heavy showers would hit Ascot in the lead up to the meeting, but unfortunately for Wonderful Tonight’s connections, nothing of substance arrived.

On taking his pride and joy out of the biggest race of the season to date, the Frenchman said: “When you train a soft-ground horse you always need a bit of luck, with races in the middle of the summer.

“She’s the filly of a lifetime with big targets in the autumn, so we’ve got to do right by her.

“We’d like to give Goodwood a go, and she’s entered in the Lillie Langtry Stakes, so could run there.”

Should she run, Wonderful Tonight could have most to fear from Sir Mark Prescott’s Alpinista, winner of the Lancashire Oaks last time out.

Ralph Beckett’s Albaflora sports the same Kirsten Rausing colours and could also take her chance. Beckett has also entered the Juddmonte-owned Yesyes, unbeaten in two starts to date.

Roger Varian sent Believe In Love to Ireland to win a Group Three last time out and she could be joined by stablemates Cabaletta and Save A Forest.

David O’Meara’s consistent Makawee, Hugo Palmer’s improving Golden Pass, Aidan O’Brien’s Passion and George Boughey’s Oaks runner-up Mystery Angel are among the initial entries.

Andrew Balding’s Chil Chil is top weight in the Unibet Stewards’ Cup. She was last seen finishing a four-length ninth in the Group One July Cup. Balding also has Stone Of Destiny in the mix.

Last year’s winner Summerghand is back for more for O’Meara with Eve Johnson’s Houghton’s progressive Punchbowl Flyer going up in grade.

Ejtilaab has been making good progress for Ian Williams but should he run, it will be for Charlie Fellowes on this occasion with Lampang, Motagally and Commanche Falls all engaged.

The maximum field size is 28 with a Stewards’ Cup consolation race for those that don’t make the cut.

Menuisier eyes Goodwood as Wonderful Tonight misses King George

David Menuisier will look towards Goodwood with Wonderful Tonight after ruling her out of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot.

The four-year-old, winner of the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal meeting on her reappearance last month, needed rain in Berkshire to take her place in Saturday’s Group One line up.

However, the forecast showers did not arrive in time – leaving Menuisier with no option but to skip the event with his stable star.

She is entered in the Group Two Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood next weekend, and Menuisier will be eager to run in the 14-furlong heat if the ground is suitable.

He said: “When you train a soft-ground horse you always need a bit of luck, with races in the middle of the summer.

“She’s the filly of a lifetime with big targets in the autumn, so we’ve got to do right by her.

“We’d like to give Goodwood a go, and she’s entered in the Lillie Langtry Stakes, so could run there.”

Murphy may ride Wonderful Tonight in King George

Champion jockey Oisin Murphy could team up with Wonderful Tonight for the first time in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes if conditions are suitable at Ascot.

David Menuisier’s stable star was ridden by William Buick on her successful seasonal bow in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and when claiming the second of two Group One wins to date in the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes last autumn.

However, Buick will be aboard Charlie Appleby’s Derby hero Adayar for retained owner Godolphin on Saturday, leaving Murphy to take the reins on Wonderful Tonight – if she lines up.

The ground at Ascot is currently good to firm, good in places, with possible thunderstorms later in the week.

Menuisier said: “Oisin is a top jockey, and we think he is the best possible replacement for William, if she runs.

“It’s one of those things – in summer, heat can be followed by thunderstorms, so it’s not by any means delusional to think we might get some rain. We just want to have the options open.

“I’ll have a chat with Chris (Wright, owner) before declarations on Thursday morning, and we will make a decision then. She is a different horse this season – she’s stronger and she might handle better ground, although you cannot guarantee that.

“What we don’t want to do is have a hard race on good ground at this stage of the season and put her off.”

Wonderful Tonight is entered in both the Qatar Nassau Stakes over 10 furlongs and the 14-furlong Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood next week, so Menuisier has alternative engagements.

He added: “If the ground is not right at Ascot, and the forecast for next week at Goodwood is better, we will have to make a decision.

“I don’t feel as much pressure to run because there are other options next week, and I think I would favour the Lillie Langtry for her, if we were to go to Goodwood.”

Broome success provides timely boost to crack filly Wonderful Tonight

David Menuisier was delighted to see Broome win the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud on Sunday to give Wonderful Tonight’s form a boost.

Aidan O’Brien’s Broome made all the running in the Group One, having finished behind Menuisier’s stable star at Royal Ascot in the Hardwicke Stakes.

Also Ebaiyra, runner-up in France, was third to Wonderful Tonight in the Prix de Royallieu at ParisLongchamp in October.

“It was great to see Broome win – as well as the second that we beat in the Prix Royallieu in France. That’s what we like,” said Menuisier.

Menuisier is now looking forward to running Wonderful Tonight in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes back at Ascot later this month.

He said: “The King George is the plan as long as we have the weather on our side. That is what we’ll be aiming to do.

“She’s great, she’s in really good form. I couldn’t be more pleased with her.”

Wonderful Tonight was left in the Coral-Eclipse at the five-day stage before not being declared, yet despite the impressive win of St Mark’s Basilica, Menuisier would not be afraid of pitching her in against the winner in future.

“He was impressive and showed a good turn of foot,” he said.

“It hasn’t put me off taking him on, not really. I’m happy to take anything on.”

Wonderful Tonight just that in Hardwicke Stakes

Wonderful Tonight returned to action better than ever with a resounding success in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Having ended the season with two Group One wins, including at Ascot on Champions Day, trainer David Menuisier has repeatedly stated her main target this year is the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.

He had also warned she may be keen in the early stages first time out – which she was – and that she would come on for the run. Given how she won that seems ominous for her future rivals.

Wonderful Tonight in full flow
Wonderful Tonight in full flow (David Davies/PA)

Having taken a lead into the straight, when William Buick pressed the button Wonderful Tonight (5-1) sprinted clear, leaving some top-class horses in her wake to give Menuisier the first winner of his career at the Royal meeting.

Aidan O’Brien’s Broome came from out of the pack to chase her down but while he was closing close home, the filly still had a length and a half in hand crossing the line. Hukum, who travelled smoothly throughout, was third.

Coral gave the winner a 14-1 quote for the Arc.

Buick said: “She’s top class. She was very good last year when I won on her in a fillies’ race on Champions Day. She probably does handle good ground quite well, but this performance was her best as she showed me a turn of foot I’d never seen from her before.

“David and his team have bided their time with her. She’s very versatile and can make her own running. She was entitled to be a bit fresh on her first run back, but the race went nice and smooth.

“She does everything right, David had her in tip-top shape today and it’s great for Chris Wright (owner) as well. I think David will work back from the Arc.”

Menuisier said: “She’s an absolute star. It was always going to be tough running against opposition that had the benefit of at least one run (this season), but she is amazing and I’m so proud of the filly, my team and of the fact that Her Majesty came racing, too.

“Today she needed to be flexible and she showed that. She also showed a fair amount of improvement.

“Two things that overwhelmed me were how much she has matured and how much calmer she was in this race.”

He went on: “She loves Ascot, as she does Longchamp, but we will play it by ear as to where we go next. The King George is tantalising, but we would need to keep an eye on the ground as I’m really not sure if she would be the same on good ground.

“She’s in all the big races and she will go wherever the ground is the softest. The Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, the King George, the Yorkshire Oaks – anywhere where there is a good downpour – and hopefully end up in the Arc.”

O’Brien said of Broome: “I was very pleased with the run we will look at all the big middle-distance races.”

And of Hukum, Owen Burrows said: “The filly is exceptional, but that’s the best race my fellow has run.

“The first three pulled clear and he showed he handled the ground. Although it comes a bit quick, if he is OK we might look at the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at the July meeting.”

Ground comes in favour of Wonderful Tonight in Hardwicke

David Menuisier has warned that Wonderful Tonight will improve for her outing in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday – but with conditions in her favour she may still be good enough to win.

A dual Group One winner at the end of last season, including on Champions Day over the course and distance she faces here, Menuisier is training his filly for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.

As a result, he does not want her at concert pitch quite so early in the campaign, but given her love of soft ground and the fact she is the highest rated in the field, he would not be surprised if she won.

“She should really enjoy the conditions, the trip and ground are perfect but she’s running against race-fit, really good horses so we will go there respecting everybody and bearing in mind she is only 85 per cent fit,” said Menuisier.

“We want her to peak later on in the season. That doesn’t mean she won’t put up a lovely performance but I’m just saying, due to her exuberant style as well, she might want to do a bit much too early.

“Taking all that into consideration – I’m not making excuses – but I just want people to realise she hasn’t had two runs already like most of the others and she’s not ready yet to put up her best performance of the year, I expect her to improve 10-15 lengths hopefully.

“The Arc is her big aim this year and there are so many big races towards the end of the season, so it makes no sense to have her at 100 per cent first time out. I’m not going there thinking she’s unbeatable as her main target is later on.

“In saying all this it may be compensated by the fact she’s highest-rated and loves the ground – we’ll find out in the race!”

William Haggas runs two, the rapidly improving Ilaraab and Robert Escobarr.

“Ilaraab is rated 111 now and the other opportunity was the Fred Archer at Newmarket next weekend,” said Haggas.

Ilaraab (left) has been hugely progressive for William Haggas
Ilaraab (left) has been hugely progressive for William Haggas (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I’d have preferred to go Listed and then Group Three coming out of handicaps and I think he’s better left-handed as well, but he’s in good form.

“He’s a very interesting horse. He worked well this week with Addeybb so he’s got talent – but who knows.

“We’re running Roberto in a first-time visor and hopefully it brings out a bit of improvement.”

Aidan O’Brien was set to run four but the heavy ground resulted in both Melbourne Cup runner-up Tiger Moth and Mogul being declared non runners, leaving Japan and Broome, who narrowly failed to make it four out of four this season in the Tattersalls Gold Cup last time out, to fly the flag.

Ryan Moore had the choice and opted for Broome, telling his Betfair column: “Broome comes here on the top of his form and he was only a short head away from making it four from four this season in the Tattersalls Gold Cup last time.

“This has been the first time he has stepped up to a mile and a half this term, and that could easily bring about improvement in a horse beaten in a four-way photo for the Derby.

“He has a very solid look to him here, and he should handle conditions better than most.”

Highest Ground runs for Sir Michael Stoute who has won the race 11 times
Highest Ground runs for Sir Michael Stoute who has won the race 11 times (Steve Davies/PA)

No one has won the race more times than Sir Michael Stoute – who has a remarkable 11 victories – and he is set to be represented by Highest Ground, although he disappointed on his only previous run on soft.

Owen Burrows’ Hukum won the King George V Handicap at the meeting 12 months ago and progressed to finish a close fifth in the St Leger. Soft ground should hold no fears as he won a Goodwood Listed race on it last time out.

Ralph Beckett’s filly Albaflora will certainly handle the ground judged on her demolition job in soft ground at Ascot first time out this season.

Sir Ron Priestley – a half-brother to Thursday’s Gold Cup hero Subjectivist – runs for Mark Johnston.