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Menuisier defends Derby defection for Lionel

Friday: Cocked Hat Stakes, Goodwood

The Cocked Hat Stakes is a Derby trial in all but name and this year's running will have no bearing on Epsom, but it might on the Irish equivalent after Lionel produced a game display to land the Listed feature.

For a moment, it looked like a typically fine front-running Frankie Dettori ride might have sealed things on Aldous Huxley, but Lionel, outpaced turning in, rallied under an inspired Jamie Spencer.

"We went very slow and Frankie was getting away with daylight murder in front," said Spencer. "My horse is a work in progress, but I knew at the furlong pole I'd run them down – he's one to look forward to."

Trainer David Menuisier and owner-breeder Philippa Cooper withdrew Lionel from the Cazoo Derby this week, so he will not be joining Troy as a Goodwood winner to follow up at Epsom, but that does not mean grand plans are off his agenda.

Menuisier, based not far from Goodwood in Pulborough, said: "I don't regret taking him out of the Derby. The main reason why we did it, and it was a concerted decision, was we felt he was too weak mentally. I don't want to frighten him. I think he's a very good horse, but Epsom is not easy and you need to be a grown-up to win there and he's not."

Menuisier has a host of options for the son of Lope De Vega, whose dam Gretchen was a 1m6½f Group 2 winner.

"He's in at Royal Ascot and the Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris," the trainer added.

"I think he'll handle any ground, but I wouldn't want it to be too quick on unconventional tracks; I think he'd be fine on a nice, big galloping track on quicker ground. He's a mile-and-a-half, mile-and-a-half-plus horse.

"I can't write off the Queen's Vase or King Edward VII Stakes or the Irish Derby. The St Leger is a good possibility later on and he'll stay well in time, but he's got pace. I think I'd be happy taking him to the Curragh next."

Having a fresh challenger for the Irish Derby, which is backed by Dubai Duty Free, is something that appeals to Menuisier, who said: "That sounds a good idea and it's something I've thought about before."

Menuisier might not have been in red-hot form before the race, but said: "A lot of people talk about statistics, but when you train racehorses you don't look at them too much. We've been proving for long enough that we're not too bad at training horses."

In Lionel, he has the chance to show he is not bad at training a good horse, albeit one not ready for the Derby.

 

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