Eminent stands tall in Derby frame
Every good fairytale has a happy ending and trainer Martyn Meade hopes Eminent can produce exactly that in the Investec Derby.
Having gone through the sales ring at Tattersalls unsold as a yearling, the three-year-old will now bid to give the Newmarket handler a winner with his first runner in the Epsom Classic.
While victory in the premier Classic would be a milestone moment for Meade, it would also serve as a landmark occasion for the mighty Frankel in giving him a first British Classic in his role as a stallion.
"It's a big responsibility and a privilege having him, but that is what it is all about, that is what you work towards – having a horse that has got a chance in the Derby," said Meade.
"At this stage, it is just another horse race and I have got to get him there in good nick to do himself justice. After that, the realisation of what it's all about might just kick in.
"It's a big thing and I am sure the nerves will kick in, as so many things can go wrong. When we get Jim (Crowley) on board and get him out of the parade ring, then I can relax.
"There is a huge hype about the Frankel factor. While there are lots of them about and lots of good ones, it would be quite nice to have the first one to win a British Classic."
Despite aspirations of Classic glory in the 2000 Guineas going up in smoke in sixth, Meade expects the step up to a mile and a half to suit his stable star.
"I always thought he would get further, but I had to run him in the Guineas after the Craven run because of the time and the way he did it," said Meade.
"I think his run in the Guineas was down to a combination of factors. He had to have pace, as he doesn't quicken because he is not an out-and-out miler.
"When Jim realised there was no pace on it was a bit late to do anything and he was stuck behind other horses and he had to pull out and make a sprint of it.
"Secondly it maybe it came a bit quick, and thirdly he would have liked a little bit of cut in the ground to let himself down a bit in that final furlong.
"He won his maiden as good as any of the others won their maiden and he has won a Group Three very convincingly. He has got the class and the speed, the only question mark would be is he going to stay. I am saying I think he will, because he settles."
Eminent enjoyed a successful outing to the Surrey track to participate in the Breakfast With The Stars event last week, and Meade added: "The idea of going there was to get him use to the track going round the bend and down the hill, and then quicken away a little bit up the straight.
"In the end he did some pretty good times. We had this satellite thing on him and he was clocking over 40 miles per hour for the last three furlongs.
"When you watched him, it didn't look like he was moving much at all. The great thing about that was he was hard on the bit all the way through and Jim took time to pull him up.
"Jim was really pleased how he came into the top of hill, changed legs and was always on the right lead all the way down. He coped with the downhill bit and was perfectly balanced. He never had the slightest worry about him."
One constant throughout the three-race career of Eminent is the partnership with champion jockey Jim Crowley, one that will be extended this weekend, much to the delight of Meade.
"I think the great thing is he knows the horse," said Meade.
"The first two rides on him were pretty straightforward and I have to say while the Guineas was not straightforward and it went wrong, it was good in a way as he learnt more about the horse.
"Now he has seen both sides of the horse, I think that augurs well. He has had a bit of Derby experience and he will be hungry for it. I love the fact that any ex-jump jockey is a real horseman and that will help round that track."
Should the dream for Meade, 69, who saddled his first winner back in 1972, turn into reality, it would give him a major sense of fulfilment and something he can proudly look back on when the time comes to call it a day.
"I can't even think about what it would be like to win the Derby. It's a nice when we are doing it with a horse we bought when nobody else wanted him, and that we have got him to this position," said Meade.
"If he did just by some freak of a chance manage to win the Derby, it would be everything you ever wanted to do.
"It is in my view the world's most important race and if you win this you don't have much to prove after that."
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