Star filly Wonderful Tonight too good in Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes

Wonderful Tonight was all class when winning the 14-furlong G2 Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes for trainer David Menuisier.

Sent off the 4/5 favourite, Wonderful Tonight’s partner William Buick sat the four-year-old second in the early stages as she raced keenly behind the leader.

As the front-running Makawee faded, Buick was left with no choice but to commit, making his challenge under half a mile from home. Wonderful Tonight stretched clear on the stands’ side but was emptying slightly in the closing stages – that early exuberance appearing to be a factor.

The two-time Group 1 winner had enough in reserve to see off the staying-on Tribal Craft (16/1), ultimately scoring by a comfortable two lengths.

Menuisier said: “Wonderful Tonight won a Group 1 over a mile and six furlongs last year, and she is a lot stronger this year. But 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.

“I decided not to run her in the Nassau as I wanted Emma Banks [Lady Bowthorpe, owner] to win the race, so we went for the Lillie Langtry instead.

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

It was a seventh win of at this year’s Qatar Goodwood Festival for Buick, who will end the week as Leading Jockey.

Buick said: “It’s a mile and six furlongs. I know she has won over this trip before in Paris last year, but I think she’s a bit speedier now. 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 has stuck on all the way to the line.

“She has got a bit stronger since last year and with that she has probably got a bit quicker. This trip probably stretches her a bit now but she’s very good, so she has got the job done.

“It’s a long way on this ground, it’s heavy and hard work. We opted to go to the stands’ side just to get a bit of better ground. She’s got the crowd on one side and it’s a lot for her to take in, but she’s a magnificent filly.

“I think she is a different filly to last year. She has more pace, is more consistent and is just better. She is a very good mover so there is no real reason why she should want soft ground. Her form suggests she is better on it, but if it was Good to Soft or Good ground, I wouldn’t be worried.

“If the ground came up like this [in an Arc], she is a class filly and you would have to give her a chance. She won a good Hardwicke, was impressive that day, and is now unbeaten in her last four races at Group 1 or Group 2 level.”

Winning owner Chris Wright said: “It was great to watch. I thought Jeff Smith’s filly gave us a bit of an anxious moment in the last furlong maybe but half a furlong out, it was alright.

“I would say I would be happier with her over a mile and a half rather than this trip. I know she’s won over the longer trip but a mile and six in France isn’t the same as a mile and a half in England.

“My personal view is that I wouldn’t go over a mile and six in a hurry. I think she would be happier in a fast-run mile and a half in the Arc.

“We’d like to get a couple more runs into her before the Arc 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. 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.”

Oisin Murphy said of Tribal Craft: “It was a career best and I am thrilled. Wonderful Tonight is a star. Tribal Craft definitely improved for a change of tactics – being dropped in really suits her and she relishes these conditions.”

 

3.05pm Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes (Group 2)

1 Wonderful Tonight (Christopher Wright) David Menuisier 4-9-09 William Buick 4/5 fav

2 Tribal Craft (Jeff Smith) Andrew Balding 4-9-06 Oisin Murphy 16/1

3 Albaflora (Kirsten Rausing) Ralph Beckett 4-9-06 Rossa Ryan 4/1

7 ran

David Menuisier – 2nd Qatar Goodwood Festival winner

William Buick – 32nd Qatar Goodwood Festival winner