When 36-year-old David Menuisier saddles Contrapposto in the Group 3 bet365 Craven Stakes at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile Racecourse on Thursday, it will start a 48-hour period that could define the season for the West Sussex trainer.
Menuisier will be taking on the role of David against Goliath as last term his small stable included only two juvenile colts – Contrapposto and Make Time, who runs in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Saturday. Both are entered in the Group 1 QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday, 6th May.
Menuisier will come up against some of Europe’s most powerful trainers when Contrapposto lines up against six opponents in the £60,000 bet365 Craven over the full Rowley Mile.
The field is headed by the William Haggas-trained Group 1 Racing Post Trophy winner, Rivet, alongside last term’s Group 2 Vintage Stakes, War Decree, representing the Irish training maestro, Aidan O’Brien.
Then, from the 250-strong string of Richard Hannon, there is Larchmont Lad, successful in the Group 3 Somerville Tattersall Stakes at Newmarket last September, not to mention Gulliver, carrying the hopes of Hugo Palmer, trainer of last season’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas hero, Galileo Gold.
Contrapposto has already met Rivet on two occasions. He chased him home in the Convivial Maiden Stakes at York last August and then, following an easy Nottingham victory, trailed home in ninth in the Racing Post Trophy.
The final day of the bet365 Craven Meeting also features a seven-runner renewal of the Group 3 £60,000 Connaught Access Flooring Abernant Stakes over six furlongs in which last season’s Greenham Stakes winner, Tasleet, takes on Brando, successful in September’s Ayr Gold Cup prior to a fine third place finish in the Group 1 British Champions Sprint Stakes.
David Menuisier, trainer of Contrapposto, said:
“Contrapposto has done really well over the winter. He has not grown that much but has strengthened up a lot and I am really happy with him.”
“He has had a very clear preparation and has been pleasing me at home yet, like all of them, he will still need the run on Thursday.”
“He definitely did not show his true form in the Racing Post Trophy, he was just starting to go in his coat at that point and for him it was a non-event. You can draw a line through it.”
“He has to answer a number of questions on Thursday, primarily if he is good enough and also if a mile is his right trip. He’s bred to go further but, while last year I would have signed in blood that a mile would eventually be too short for him, over the winter he has begun to show more speed in the mornings.”
“I will keep on dreaming. But I am realistic, after Contrapposto and Make Time have run this week, the bubble could be burst.”