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.
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.”