David Menuisier: 'One Door Closed But Another Opened'

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David Menuisier: “I'm not a beggar. All of the people who have joined the yard have decided to be here.”  | Tattersalls

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David Menuisier is not a man to concentrate on the past. The stable has been in the news over the fact that Phillipa Cooper of Normandie Stud decided to move stable star Lionel (GB) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) to John and Thady Gosden after his poor performance in the G1 Irish Derby.

   However, while Menuisier has had his say on the high-profile split in this week's Q&A, he explained that he has closed the chapter on the situation and is keen to move on.

   There are few better ways to move on from the hammer-blow of losing the best horse in your yard than receiving support from a major owner-breeder, which is exactly what has happened, with Guy Pariente joining the stable.

   Along with revealing his excitement about teaming up with the man who stands Galiway (Fr), Menuisier speaks about his high hopes for rapidly-progressive Caius Chorister (Fr) (Golden Horn {GB}), on track for the Melrose H. at York on Saturday and much more in this week's TDN Conversations.

 

Brian Sheerin: It's a big weekend ahead with Caius Chorister (Fr) (Golden Horn {GB}) bidding for a six-timer in the prestigious Melrose H. at York. What are the expectations like ahead of Saturday?

David Menuisier: I am hoping that she is going to win, obviously. She is a nice filly. She took us all by surprise, really. When she was rated in the 50s, I thought she would win a race but I couldn't say at that point that she would become what she has become. If the winning streak was to stop now, then fine, because she owes us absolutely nothing. But it just feels like there is more to come. The way she won at Goodwood, dropping back in trip, which wasn't easy for her, she did exceptionally well to win there. She actually won pretty easily despite the winning margin because Benoit [De La Sayette] controlled the race. She was magnificent at Goodwood and the step up in trip at York should be in her favour because she is stoutly-bred on the damside–her mother stayed two miles standing on her head. We are very hopeful that the step up in trip could bring about even more improvement.

BS: She even had enough gas left in the tank to unship Benoit after the line at Goodwood!

DM: Exactly–that will teach him to gather his reins next time! Benoit is banned for Saturday so that's why we went for Pat [Cosgrove], because he has won on the filly before. But, anyway, the filly is uncomplicated and she does her own thing. You just have to get your fractions right on her because she is so generous. She gets into her stride and you just need a guy who knows how quick he is going, really.

BS: It's funny that you describe her as uncomplicated as I would have had her down as slightly quirky.

DM: No. She wants to get on with things but she's really not quirky at all. In the mornings, she really is a super kind and a super chilled horse. Yes, when she goes racing, she can be a little bit keen going to the start and things like that but she's really not that complicated.

BS: So there's no wizardry involved in her training and no special routine that has helped to unlock this huge improvement?

DM: She goes out with the string as normal and, frankly, she probably does less than the others because she's not the biggest. She's quite tiny so she doesn't do a lot of exercise–we just keep her ticking over. But she's a very strong horse for her size and that's why you have to find the right rhythm in her races because she would make your arms go numb if you tried to pull out of her. The second time she won at Epsom, Benoit let go of her a little bit, just before the seven-furlong pole, because I think his arms were a little bit dead!

BS: She may be straightforward but her owner, Clive Washbourn is certainly colourful. I've seen him on course in Ireland a few times and he clearly gets a good kick out of the game.

DM: Yes, I think the filly is definitely more straightforward than the owner! I think it's fantastic for racing to have people like Clive involved. Obviously he has been a great supporter of our yard and we have had a lot of success. He's been quiet the past couple of years so it's good that he can bounce back to fame and glory after those barren years. Also, he bred Caius Chorister, and she is the first homebred of his. Not only that, but the dam, Corpus Chorister (Fr) (Soldier Of Fortune {Ire}) is actually the first yearling that I ever bought when I started training. More than people realise, Caius Chorister is making us proud for many reasons.

BS: Was the original plan to sell Caius Chorister as I see she was led out unsold at Goffs as a foal?

DM: He made the right decision not to sell but, in the meantime, he actually sold the dam in foal to Belardo (Ire) for just €3,000 to go to Sweden. He's made somebody very happy.

BS: It could get even better for the Swedes as I see Caius Chorister has some fancy entries beyond York.

DM: We've made a couple of fancy entries for her because we just don't know when she will stop improving. I could not have guessed that she would improve by 40lbs so God knows, if she improves by another 15lbs, she could be right there with the best fillies in the country.

 BS: It must be huge to have one like her to look forward to, especially after the news broke that Lionel (GB) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) has been moved to John and Thady Gosden.

DM:  Well, I would rather have both of them but I don't have a choice in the matter. Things are what they are; owners make decisions–stupid decisions–but it's their problem. I just want to focus on the people who back us and support us on the good and the bad days. Many of our clients, if not all of them, have backed us from the very early days. I don't want to speak about the people who are just with us for a fling. I'm not in this for a fling. I am in it for the long run so I'd rather focus on the people who deserve my attention.

BS: But on that, were you surprised by some of the comments that were made by Phillipa Cooper of Normandie Stud, who said the reason behind the decision for the move was made, in part, on welfare grounds. I know you came out with a very famous French saying on Twitter, 'Quand on veut tuer son chien, on dit qu'il a la rage,' which translates to 'When one wants to kill his dog, one tells everybody he has rabies,' in response to that.

DM: I can sleep well at night but the comments regarding welfare were absolute rubbish. The ground at the Curragh [for the Irish Derby, in which Lionel finished down the field] was very nice. It was lovely, fast ground, but it didn't suit the horse. There is no welfare issue regarding that. As for the horse, he doesn't even know what the vet looks like because he never even had the slightest little hiccup. The only time he sees the vet is to get his vaccinations. So, when somebody talks about welfare, yes I am surprised. It doesn't matter. People can make up what they want to in order to justify their own decisions, which is absolutely fine. This is a chapter in my life that is closed and I am ready to open up more chapters with people who will support us in the long run.

The other comment that was made was on betting, something like, 'I [Cooper] would have taken evens that the horse would be with John Gosden by the end of the year.' This is a legitimate comment, because people are free to move horses whenever they like and, if they felt that I wasn't going to do a good job with the horse in 2022, maybe they should have moved the horse before that.

BS: On that, you say you are happy to move on with people that will support you in the long run. I saw you were at Arqana last week. Did you buy anything there?

DM: We bought two. I bought a lovely Churchill colt (lot 246) for new clients. They went to €120,000 to get him and he's from a good family. I also bought a lovely Walgeist (GB) filly (lot 309) out of a Kitten's Joy mare. She will make a lovely 3-year-old. We also managed to get a top French owner, Guy Pariente, on board. He bred and owned Restiadargent (Fr) (Kendargent {Fr}), who nearly beat Black Caviar (Aus) at Royal Ascot one year, so one door closes and another opens. I am delighted to have the support from people like that. He sent me lot 140, a lovely colt by Galiway (Fr).

It's funny, when I worked for Criquette Head, his mother Danzigaway (Danehill) was there. It's a small world. Guy Pariente stands Galiway so he wants to promote him in the United Kingdom. So that's what he's trying to do. I used to train one of the best Kendargents in the UK, Blue Cap (Fr), who also improved something like 40lbs with us. The owner may send us some Gokens (Fr) as well so it's an exciting project.

 BS: How important is it as a trainer to put yourself out there and get these owners?

DM: I'm not a beggar. All of the people who have joined the yard have decided to be here. I don't go out on the lash to try and make contacts. I don't go to the sales and tell people how beautiful and handsome they are. All of the people in our yard came here themselves and, by the same token, they decided to leave on their own accord as well. We have always taken a view that the horses will speak for us. If people like what they do and like the way we function, then great. If not, I am more than happy for them to go elsewhere. I don't want 200 horses in training. We are more than happy with 50-70 horses in training. We have really good staff and it's a pleasure to get up in the morning rather than have headaches that we should not have with people who are not fully committed to the yard. That's the bottom line.

BS: From Thundering Blue (Exchange Rate) to Wonderful Tonight (Fr) (Le Havre {Ire}), the stable has managed to produce one, if not a couple of flag-bearers every season.

DM: What can I say? When you are good, you are good!

 BS: You are the Eric Cantona of horse racing!

DM: The very first horse we trained was Slunovrat (Fr) (Astronomer Royal). He was the last homebred from my parents. He started off with a rating of 54 and ended up at 89. He was the first one and we have had a fair few good ones since. As we speak, we have Migration (Ire) (Alhebayeb {Ire}) cantering up the gallop in front of me. He is another stable star who didn't show much at two but keeps on improving. Even this year, he's only had one run, but was second in the Spring Cup at Newbury. I mean, what a race that was. That's what I want to carry on doing. I want to do the best with the horses that I have rather than chase the horses who are elsewhere. I don't want to get the wrong people in the yard and am happy with what I have got. Obviously, any owner is welcome here but, what I don't want is a big owner with 30 horses who could dissemble all that we have built.

BS: Will you be at Doncaster next week?

DM: It may be a cliche but Doncaster is more for the speedier types and I don't really have the clients for that. Most of my clients would prefer, as I do, middle-distance horses. We have more choice going to Tattersalls or Arqana for those sorts of horses. I try to focus on what I know and on what has worked before.

BS: What else have you got to look forward to this season?

DM: Migration is on his way back and I am hopeful that he will be ready for the Balmoral H. on Champions Day at Ascot. That's the big target. Sir Bob Parker (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}) is also on the mend. He finished third in the G2 Prix Greffulhe behind Onesto (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) so that form is not looking too bad now. He got a little chip in his hind fetlock and, while I don't think he will race again in Europe this year, we are looking at running him in Dubai this winter. That's exciting. Flyin' Solo (GB) (Roderic O'Connor {Ire}) could also be one for Dubai. We also have a nice bunch of youngsters coming through.

BS: And finally, why England? You were born in France but decided to set up in the South of England.

DM: Why England? For the beautiful weather and the food! I am only joking. I worked for John Dunlop for six years and I felt it was making a lot of sense to set up here as I fell in love with the area and with British racing. I thought, if I can set up as a trainer, it would make the most sense to set up here. People think France is amazing because of the prize-money but there are many things that they don't see. For example, the red tape is unbelievable. The employer's laws and things like that are an absolute nightmare. I think I have the best of both worlds in the South of England. It's very hard to find clients in France as well. The programmes in Britain and France are quite complementary of each other and I am not too far from the boat if we want to take one over there, which we have done in the past. England is based on the handicap system and, once they reach a certain level, they can run for better money, whether that is here or in France, Germany or wherever. Obviously, travelling horses has become a little bit more complicated because of Brexit, but I think it will just get easier and easier in time.

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