David Menuisier is optimistic Corpus Chorister can give the West Sussex trainer a first winner of the year when she runs at Beverley on Tuesday.
Highly-rated Menuisier has endured a painful few months after a virus forced the temporary closure of his Pulborough yard. But with his team now back on a racecourse, and seemingly in good spirits, John Dunlop’s former assistant believes Corpus Chorister can seize the initiative in the 132nd Year of the Watt Memorial Handicap (3.45).
Menuisier said: “We’ve had a very tough year so far. We were hit by a virus in the last couple of months and had to shut down the yard to give the horses a break. It’s been awfully frustrating and I’ve had quite a few sleepless nights. But I’ve had a lot of horses running in the last fortnight or so and though I’ve not had a winner, they all have ran up to form. There’s now a lot more positivity around the yard and it would be lovely to get back up and running with a winner at Beverley.”
Corpus Chorister looks a leading player in the £10,000 handicap over two miles. The four-year-old daughter of Soldier Of Fortune won twice last year and has this season finished runner-up at Nottingham and at Chester.
“She is a very tough filly,” added Menuisier. "She ran very well first time and then finished second at Nottingham in May when she was beaten by a better-handicapped horse. I wasn’t sure she ran up to her best, though, as that was also around the time our problems in the yard started.
"I was delighted with her on her return at Chester at the start of this month, but she grew a little tired towards the finish – probably because she needed the run after a few months out of action. She should be a bit fitter for that run and this looks a great opportunity for her. She stays very well and is now starting to understand the rhythm of these longer races. She now knows how to build speed, rather than simply just hitting her stride. Hopefully she can run a big race at Beverley.”
Corpus Chorister is one of seven declared runners in the historic 132nd Year of the Watt Memorial Handicap – a race that was conceived when local dignitary William Watt bequeathed a fund to Beverley racecourse. William Watt's father, Squire Richard Watt, was based at nearby Bishop Burton and trained four St Leger winners in the early 19th century. The 112-rated St Michel, trained by Sir Mark Prescott, won the race last season and is now under consideration for the Melbourne Cup in November.
Highland Castle, trained by Lucinda Egerton, must carry top weight in this year’s renewal, while the Micky Hammond-trained Waterclock won the race in 2015 and once again tries his luck.
Alan King has also declared Grade One-winning hurdler Grumeti, who claimed victory in the Cesarewitch at Newmarket two years ago. Angel Gabrial, La Fritillaire and The Blues Master complete the line-up in a fascinating race. All eyes will be on Talent Scout in the Racing UK-sponsored handicap at 4.15pm.
Karen Tutty’s course maestro is on a hat-trick of Beverley victories after having won at the track on June 27 and July 8. Lean On Pete is also a fine operator on the Westwood, and won at the East Yorkshire circuit three weeks ago.
Ollie Pears’ eight-year-old old is one of 13 declared runners for the Dorothy Laird Memorial Trophy Lady Riders' Handicap (5.45) – a race held in memory of the former vice-president of the Amateur Jockeys’ Association
Beverley’s eight-race card starts at 2.15pm, with the official going good to firm.