New Zealander Sir Peter Vela is great student of racing history so he well knows the significance of what his colt is on the cusp of achieving this weekend.
Sir Peter races the Frankel colt Eminent, a $5 fourth favourite for the Gr.1 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday morning (NZ time).
Trained by Martyn Meade, Eminent followed an easy 2 ¾-length debut win at Newmarket in maiden company with a 1 ¾-length win in the Gr.3 Craven Stakes at the same track last start over the 2000 Guineas distance of a mile.
Eminent will have the services of leading rider Jim Crowley in the Classic which has drawn a field of 12 runners, headed by the Aidan O’Brien-trained Churchill, a winner of five of his six starts including the Group One double of the National Stakes at The Curragh and the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket last season.
A bold showing from Eminent this weekend could see him go on to contest the Gr.1 Derby at Epsom on June 4.
“Eminent showed he was a nice athlete early in the piece and that he would get a trip in the fullness of time,” Sir Peter said.
“It was a giant step from his maiden win to the Craven, but he took it in his stride running the fastest time in over 50 years. The Guineas is another big step up and the favourite looks very hard to beat, but it’s great to have a chance and we are looking forward to Saturday.
“I have been delighted with the support and good wishes from back home in New Zealand and hope for all those he races well.”
Sir Peter has long held a fascination with European racing. He has only missed one Royal Ascot meeting in the past 27 years and he and his late brother Philip have enjoyed success there. Additionally, Sir Peter and Philip, in partnership with New England Stud, bred Gr.1 Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp winner Maarek.
Only last week, Sir Peter enjoyed Group Three success in Ireland through Torcedor, a five-year-old Fastnet Rock gelding he races as part of a Te Akau Syndicate along with the likes of Sir Patrick Hogan and Laurie Laxon.
“Philip and I raced a few in Europe for many years and have had some luck with an Ascot winner and a Group winner in France but this is the first venture into a colt that could perhaps be made into a stallion,” Sir Peter said of Eminent.
“I do keep a few mares at New England Stud and tend to race the fillies and sell the colts. I have always held Frankel in the highest regard having been lucky enough to see him win on a number of occasions and I sent two of my Pencarrow Stud mares up to England in his first season at stud.
“When his two-year-olds first appeared on the track in UK, I asked a good friend Hubie de Burgh to keep an eye out for a colt with a nice pedigree which I could buy. He found Eminent as an unraced horse who fitted the bill.”
That astute purchase is now a contender for the 2000 Guineas and The Derby, two of the world’s great races, and success in either would seal his future as a stallion. By Frankel out of the Group One placed Kingmambo mare You’ll be Mine and from the family of champions Quarter Moon and Yesterday, Eminent is highly likely to eventually find a Southern Hemisphere base at stud in Sir Peter’s homeland of New Zealand.
The principal of New Zealand Bloodstock and the showpiece Pencarrow Stud, Sir Peter’s interests won’t be just restricted to the Classic races with Torcedor on track for a Royal Ascot date.
“Torcedor is really enjoying racing this season and holds an early nomination to the Ascot Gold Cup on the Thursday of Royal Ascot,” he said. – NZ Racing Desk