Wonderful Tonight takes easy Lillie Langtry win but needs Arc jockey
Seven days on from an abortive trip to Ascot, Wonderful Tonight extended her winning streak to four with a comfortable success in the Group Two Lillie Langtry Stakes. David Menuisier’s filly may yet have two more runs before heading to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, as her connections try to decide on a jockey for the big race in Paris on 3 October.
William Buick, who is getting married on Sunday, has been in exceptional form all week and rode a confident race on Wonderful Tonight, the 8-11 favourite. The four-year-old, racing over 14 furlongs for the first time in four starts, took a strong hold in the early stages but still had more than enough left to stride on over two furlongs out, before holding Tribal Craft and Albaflora with ease.
Wonderful Tonight was Buick’s seventh win of the meeting and he is now back in second place in the Flat jockeys’ title race, behind the reigning champion, Oisin Murphy.
Buick is all but certain to be claimed to ride for the Godolphin operation at Longchamp in October, however, most likely aboard the Derby winner, Adayar. Murphy, meanwhile, was due to ride Wonderful Tonight in last Saturday’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes before unsuitably fast ground ruled her out, but he has already been booked for Japan’s big hope, Chrono Genesis.
That is likely to leave an opening for a local rider, who should get a chance to get to know their new partner in the Group One Prix Vermeille, three weeks before the Arc.
“She’s fresh and she would rather have run last week,” said Chris Wright, Wonderful Tonight’s owner. “She went to Ascot and came back in the horsebox without running. She needs to run so we had to run today and we’d like to get a couple more runs into her before the big day if we can.
“There’s the Yorkshire Oaks [on 19 August], which is going to be a pretty tough race, and also the Prix de Pomone at Deauville the same weekend. Then you’d have to look at the Vermeille, which she ran in last year when she was beaten a couple of lengths, but the ground was pretty fast that day.
“I guess we’d get [William] for the Yorkshire Oaks but we do have ideas of French jockeys for the Arc and we may have to go that route. That gives us a reason to run in the Vermeille, so the same jockey can ride her in the Arc.”
Wonderful Tonight is top-priced at 8-1 for the Arc and increasingly looks like a very serious contender, assuming she gets the cut in the ground that normally prevails at Longchamp in October. Snowfall, the Oaks and Irish Oaks winner, heads the market at 7-2 while Adayar is a 5-1 chance and Hurricane Lane, the Irish Derby winner and another possible partner for Buick, is 7-1.
The Stewards’ Cup, the big betting race on the final day of Glorious Goodwood, went north to County Durham after Commanche Falls came with a strong late run under Connor Beasley to beat Gulliver by a neck at 10-1.
For Beasley, it was the biggest win of a career that was hanging in the balance after he suffered serious injuries in a fall at Wolverhampton in July 2015.
“This means a lot,” Beasley said. “Commanche Falls is a horse that has just got better and better with each run. Today was a career-best for me and the horse.
“If things aren’t going well, you can question yourself. However, I’ve really got the ball rolling, things are going well and I couldn’t have wished for this.
“I had a bad fall in 2015. I fractured my skull, did my neck and back and did a good job on myself. There are always doubts, but there were no doubts in my mind about coming back. I went to Jack Berry House and was off for eight months in total. I came back and my first two rides were at Wolverhampton, it was some story to tell.
“I always had it in my mind that I would get back to where I wanted to be.”