Eminent victory would be a Derby story to remember

Eminent victory would be a Derby story to remember
By Sportsbeat

03/06/2017 at 16:20

Around the world there are imitations but the Derby is race that doesn't need a prefix.

Nothing quickens the heartbeat quite like watching your fancy charge round Tattenham Corner and surge down Epsom's rollercoaster cambers towards the winning post.

Since the first running in 1780, names have been etched into legend here - from Lester Piggott's nine wins to tragic Shergar's record ten length victory and many more.

Frankel, the horse of his generation, never ran over the 12 furlongs but one of the first colts he sired could deliver where Dad did not.

And that would be another page-turning chapter in the storied history of a race without parallel.

Eminent's trainer Marytn Meade knows he has got Frankel's loyal legion of followers behind him, even if the money suggests this could be a head-to-head between Aidan O'Brien's classy Cliffs of Moher and John Gosden's raw but talented Cracksman.

Meade has never had a Derby runner and Eminent didn't appear the sort to change that when his son-in-law snapped him up at auction two years ago.

Dismissed as too big and too gangly, he was bought for just 150,000 guineas, a bargain when you consider the cost of a trip to Frankel at Banstead Manor Stud is £125,000 and his first foal went to auction for over a million pounds.

But breeding and bloodlines don't tell you everything, sometimes you need courage and heart too and - in a 19-runner Derby - some luck helps as well.

"We thought he'd be a half a million quid yearling and to this day I just can't understand why he wasn't," recalls bloodstock agent Dermot Farrington.

"Maybe people were put off because he's tall but sometimes great horses end up slipping through the cracks.

"The thing with Frankel's progeny is that it doesn't matter what shape they are, they all seem to gallop, though we didn't know that when we bought him."

Meade was barely able to contain his excitement after Eminent won Newmarket's Craven Stakes in a record time but 16 days later finished sixth in the 2,000 Guineas, a race famously won by his father.

However, it was clear he wanted a longer trip and he was only three and a half lengths behind double classic winner Churchill, who would have been a short-priced Derby favourite had O'Brien decided to run him.

"I'm someone who doesn't tend to dwell on things and he's bounced back and, to be honest, he's got Derby written all over him," insists Meade.

"This is the distance we've been waiting for and he's been improving and improving. We gave him a spin around the course at half-speed and he coped really well, as a trainer you couldn't get a more perfect prep. Obviously a race is different but I've no doubt he will cope.

"It's just great to have a live chance because this is a greatest race in the world. Nothing compares to it, there are more high-value races but they don't have the same heritage and history as the Derby.

"When you think of all those wonderful winners and stories, you just tingle all over. It would be amazing to be part of that story, there would be nothing better."

Sportsbeat 2017

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