THUNDERING BLUE RETURNS TO HAPPY HUNTING GROUND FOR JOHN SMITH’S CUP

THUNDERING Blue will bid for a course and distance repeat when he contests the 59th John Smith’s Cup at York on Saturday.

The David Menuisier-trained five-year-old was impressive when winning a handicap over an extended mile and a quarter on the Knavesmire at the Dante Festival in May.

The gelding was unable to replicate that form over a mile and a half at Royal Ascot last time out, finishing down the field that day.

But Menuisier is happy to draw a line through that run and is looking forward to bringing his charge back to York for a tilt at the historic £200,000 heritage handicap.

The Sussex-based trainer said: “He has won four races over this distance and always looks like he’ll go further. That’s why it was interesting to step him up in trip for Ascot to try and find some improvement.

“But there were quite a few circumstances that day that made him run as he did, really.

“He was drawn very wide, which doesn’t really suit the way the horse has to be ridden. He was just shuffled back too far.

“And the ground was too quick for him, I thought. The ground dried out dramatically throughout the day as it was quite warm and windy.

“Also, the track possibly didn’t suit him perfectly well.

“I still don’t know whether he stays a mile and four. But I am more than happy to go back to a mile and a quarter because he is proven over it.

“He is a winner over course (York) and distance, so obviously we know that there won’t be any surprise there.

“The ground should be fairly similar to the ground he ran on at the Dante meeting, so we would be hopeful.

“He came out of Ascot absolutely fine because when Frankie (Dettori) saw that the horse was beaten he hasn’t been overly hard on him. He kind of looked after him in the last furlong.

“So he has actually come out of Ascot really well and is in super form. In my opinion he is in as good a form as he was before the Dante meeting.”

York’s two-day fixture starts on Friday when the £65,000 Group 3 Summer Stakes will be the highlight.

Saturday’s seven-race card is worth almost £400,000 and, as well as the John Smith’s Cup, includes the upgraded Group 3 John Smith’s Silver Cup and a Listed sprint contest, the John Smith’s City Walls Stakes..

For tickets for either day please call 01904 620911 x 225 or visit www.yorkracecourse.co.uk

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