Eminent, a son of the extraordinary Frankel, established himself as a contender for both the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby at Newmarket on Thursday with a decisive success in the Group Three Craven Stakes, over the same straight mile which will stage the season’s first Classic next month. Eminent is now the 10-1 third favourite for the 2,000 Guineas, and the odds continue to shorten that his sire will have a Classic winner from his first crop of foals.
Eminent was one of the least experienced runners in the Craven field, having raced just once as a juvenile when successful in a seven-furlong maiden event, also on the Rowley Mile. He needed little encouragement to run down a battle-hardened rival in Rivet inside the final quarter-mile, however, and last year’s winner of the Group One Racing Post Trophy could only stay on for second place as Eminent crossed the line with a length and three-quarters to spare.
As a trial, this year’s Craven was not entirely satisfactory, as the field split at an early stage and the four horses to race towards the stands’ side – including Benbatl and the 50-1 chance Contrapposto – filled the first four places. The 9-4 favourite War Decree, who raced towards the far side, beat only one horse home.
Eminent’s performance, though, was difficult to fault on just his second start, and Martyn Meade, his trainer, is already looking not just towards the Guineas, but then to the Derby at Epsom in early June, for which Eminent is now quoted as the 16-1 third-favourite.
“It’s tremendous,” Meade said. “This is the beginning really, this is the thing that we’ve been waiting for, for the last six months. Did the bubble burst or not? No, it didn’t, it’s still alive.
“He just stays, that’s the thing. He doesn’t quicken too much, but the way that he hit the Dip there, he [Eminent’s jockey, Jim Crowley] held him together nicely, and I knew in that position that they weren’t going to stop him.
“He’s a magnificent striding horse and at home he doesn’t look as if he’s doing anything, but today he’s proved that he can do it with those Group horses. That was my worry bringing him here, were we overstepping the mark, but it was the only way to find out.
“He was primed enough today but I didn’t want to overdo him. It’s a trial, after all. That’s what he was here for, and he’s managed to prove that he’s pretty good.”
Eminent was one of 13 colts and fillies from Frankel’s first crop to go through the ring at Tattersalls’ prestigious Book One sale in October 2015, but he was led out unsold and then bought privately for 150,000gns (£157,500), a relatively modest sum when several Frankel yearlings at the same auction sold for close to £1m. Several more members of Frankel’s first crop are quoted in the betting for this year’s Classics, but Eminent is now well-placed to be the first to succeed.
To do so, he will need to beat Churchill, last year’s Dewhurst Stakes winner and a son of Frankel’s own sire, Galileo. With one significant 2,000 Guineas trial to come – the Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Saturday – Churchill remains favourite for the 2,000 Guineas at a top price of 13-8, with André Fabre’s Al Wukair next in the betting at 9-2 and Eminent the clear third choice at 10-1.
Frankel announced his brilliance as a three-year-old with a devastating success in the 2,000 Guineas in 2011, but did not run in the Derby and even as a four-year-old, did not run beyond a mile-and-a-quarter. Eminent’s dam, however, stayed one-and-a-half miles, and with the Derby in mind, Meade will be further encouraged by Crowley’s post-race remark that Eminent “was only getting going at the winning line”.
Crowley added: “He’s the real deal. He only hit top gear as he went past the line. My only worry coming into this race was if he had enough toe as he might want a bit further, and there’s no question he’ll stay further but he has enough boot to win a race like that. I think he’d have won wherever he was on the track.”
George Baker, who suffered serious head injuries in a fall at St Moritz’s “White Turf” meeting on a snow-covered lake in February, has left hospital to continue his recovery at a rehabilitation centre closer to his home.
Baker suffered some bleeding in his brain after the fall and had been undergoing treatment at the Wellington Hospital in London, but has now moved to the Glenside Rehabilitation Centre in Salisbury.
“The staff at the Wellington have been amazing,” Baker said in a statement issued through the Injured Jockeys Fund. “I arrived there on 6 March and they told my wife, Nicola, that I would be there for at least four months.
“Thanks to their support, I have made really good progress, have learnt to walk again and hope to get home in the next month or so. Everybody has been so kind, I am very grateful for all the good wishes I have received and I count myself really lucky.”
Friday tips, by Greg Wood
2.00 Gold Town 2.30 Rainbow Dreamer 3.05 Raheen House
3.40 Fashion Theory 4.10 Jule In The Crown (nap) 4.40 Bowson Fred 5.10 Butterfly Lily 5.40 Poana
2.10 Burbank 2.40 Lycidas 3.15 Winningtry 3.50 Calipto 4.20 Nomoreblackjack 4.50 Jessber’s Dream 5.25 Capard King (nb)
4.55 Mutanaaseq 5.30 Danglydontask 6.00 Evil Spell 6.30 Attain 7.00 Star Of Lombardy 7.30 International Law 8.00 Goodwood Crusader
4.45 Cup Final 5.15 Thoonavolla 5.45 Chestnut Ben 6.15 Knocklong 6.45 Back To Balloo 7.15 Sunnytahliateigan 7.45 Colonial Dreams
1.50 Shimba Hills 2.20 Southfield Vic 2.55 Pilansberg 3.30 Alcala 4.00 Tactical Manoeuvre 4.30 Lake Chapala 5.05 Wine Women An’Song