Eminent powers into 2000 Guineas reckoning as Frankel fever returns
Thursday 20 April 2017
Watch a full replay of the Bet365 Craven Stakes won by Eminent at Newmarket on Thursday, video reaction from Martyn Meade and Jim Crowley, plus read a report by Andy Stephens.
The Frankel feelgood factor reverberated around Newmarket on Thursday as one of his sons, Eminent, stormed into contention for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas and Investec Derby with an emphatic victory in the bet365 Craven Stakes.
Never one for half-measures on the track, it seems Frankel is going to leave us with a lot more than memories of his own thrilling blend of pace and power.
He remains in the infancy of his stallion career but, 20 years now, his legacy could be his own brilliance and that of a legion of champions that he has helped produce. The prophetically named Eminent might just be the first of them.
Plenty of Frankel's early progeny have shown ability, spirit, exuberance and waywardness in equal measure but Eminent, a reject at the sales, seems cut from a different cloth and that was reflected afterwards by the bookmakers, who quote the imposing colt at 10-1 for the Guineas and 14-1 for the Derby.
Jim Crowley said afterwards he had never had a horse who had taken so long to pull up but whether he will be able to resume the partnership in the first Classic of the season is unlikely to be resolved until after the weekend.
Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, his employer, has a contender of his own in Zainhom, who is 3-1 to enhance his credentials in the JLT Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
Martyn Meade will not be short of volunteers if the champion jockey finds himself otherwise engaged.
Before Thursday Meade had only one Group winner to his name but he knew he had something special on his hands when Eminent made a winning debut at Newmarket in the autumn.
His principal concern heading into the Craven was not whether Eminent had the ability to hold his own in the better company, but whether the mile trip might be on the sharp side for him. Those fears were dispelled when the horse with a deceptively long stride - not unlike his sire - was in contention heading into the Dip.
“I knew that when he was in that position [at that stage] they were not going to stop him,” Meade said.
“He doesn’t quicken too much but he’s a magnificent striding horse who stays and stays.
“At home he doesn’t look like he’s doing anything at times. He just lollops along and you think ‘how fast is this horse really going’ but today he’s proved he can do it with those good horses.”
Asked what the success meant to him, he replied: “This is the beginning. This is the thing we’ve been waiting for for six months and did the bubble burst? No, it didn’t and the dream is still alive.”
Crowley had the temerity to use Rivet as something of a pacemaker. He let the Champagne Stakes and Racing Post Trophy winner tow his horse along and then, when it mattered most, swept by him under mostly hands and heels.
“I was really impressed with him,” Crowley said.
“I’ve never had a horse take so long to pull up. The further he was going the better he was going, and he didn’t mind the fast ground.
“He will stay [further] and he’s got a good mind. He relaxed and travelled into it, and was only hitting top gear at the line.
“I thought it may be too sharp, but he’s just a high-class horse.”
Frankel’s two other offspring to run at the Craven meeting, Elyaasaat and Seven Heavens, both started favourite for their respective races. They more or less beat themselves, however, the former being most excitable in the preliminaries and the latter racing much too keenly.
Some of his other sons and daughters have shown similar traits but Eminent seems blessed with a much calmer disposition.
When asked about Eminent's temperament, Meade turned towads his colt standing gently behind him and said: “Do I have to say anything? You’ve seen him; he’s fine. He’s a bit of a lad who needs entertaining but if he’s entertained he’s fine.”
Eminent was purchased for 150,000gns by Dermot Farrington, Meade’s son-in-law, after he was led around unsold at the Tattersalls Book One Sale in October 2015.
“We needed a visionary to buy him,” the trainer said, by way of a compliment, and he now runs in the silks of Sir Peter Vela, the New Zealand bloodstock agent.
“I didn’t want to overdo him today, it was a trial after all,” Meade said, hinting there was more to come. “This was not his big day but, even for a trial, he was pretty good.”
That was the day’s biggest understatement.
Churchill, a top-priced 13-8 for the 2,000 Guineas, will be a formidable rival 16 days from now but Aidan O’Brien could be forgiven for sleeping a little less easier between now and then. After all, he tried to conquer Frankel with any number of his best horses and he will be well aware that Eminent’s dam is You’ll Be Mine, a filly he trained in her racing days.
Regardless of all that, racing should rejoice that a Frankel will be in the thick of the action for one of its showpiece occasions.
Available at a double-figure price, plenty of each-way backers will look no further when it comes to risking a sentimental tenner or so.
Relive Frankel's extraordinary 2,000 Guineas victory at Newmarket in 2011.