Canadian International for Thundering Blue after flawless first foreign foray
Gathering storm clouds proved more apt than ominous at Bro Park on Sunday as Thundering Blue and Fran Berry unleashed their classic hold-up tactics to land the Group 3 Stockholm Cup International – chased home by fellow British runner Crowned Eagle.
The two-length win earned David Menuisier's stable star quotes of 9-2 for the Canadian International at Woodbine and 25-1 for the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.
Breaking from stall two, Berry quickly found safe haven towards the rear as Norwegian runner Our Last Summer set a quick pace out in front, with the Marco Botti-trained Crowned Eagle leading the rest of the field four lengths back.
Edging up the rail as the 12-strong group made their way down the back straight, Thundering Blue was in prime position as the leaders fanned out turning for home.
"I wasn't worried, that’s his style," reflected Menuisier. "He loves a bit of pace during the race, I was pretty confident, and Fran knows him well – I think wherever we send him now he would change his plans to ride him!"
Menuisier's Plan A is the Canadian International at Woodbine on October 13, which falls a week before British Champions Day at Ascot.
"We'll see how he comes out of the race, but this trip ticked a lot of boxes," said the trainer. "He showed he has potential abroad – people often think he's just a York horse, but he's won at Newmarket, Sandown and Epsom.”
In true Swedish fashion there were no hard feelings as foreigners filled first and second in the meeting’s feature race, with Thundering Blue earning the biggest cheer of the day for his emphatic victory. The feeling was clearly mutual, with owner Clive Washbourn praising the nation famed for its liberal and egalitarian ethos.
"This country lives life like every country should – don't change," said a hoarse Washbourn. "I had no worries about the race today, all the worries were yesterday. I got the 7am flight out of Heathrow and when I arrived we were concerned he'd already run his race. Luckily this morning David said to me, 'We've got him back'.
"I'd particularly like to thank David Barron, who bought the horse for me. I've never really had the chance to thank him. He's a genius!"
It was a savvy ride from Berry, whose burgeoning partnership with the popular grey included the pair's Juddmonte International third. Sunday's success was a first over a mile and a half, on his second crack at the trip, but his stamina never looked in any doubt.
Berry said: "He felt very good. After taking his usual two furlongs to warm up he came good, and the further he was going the better he travelled. I was always happy from three furlongs out that he had enough to go and win."
Living up to its international name – Menuisier hailing from France and Botti from Italy – the race ensured the day ended on a high for Team GB.
How they ran
In the Listed Bro Park Sprint Championship, Corinthia Knight (Archie Watson) and Never Back Down (Hugo Palmer) were third and sixth.
Izvestia (also Watson) was fourth in the juvenile conditions contest, with Hateya (Jim Boyle) fifth in the Listed Lanwades Stud Stakes.
Big Country (Mick Appleby) occupied the same position in the Listed Tattersalls Nickes Minneslopning.
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