Sir Peta Vela's Frankel colt Eminent storms into English 2000 Guineas contention
Prominent New Zealand racehorse owner Sir Peter Vela will get the chance to usurp British racing royalty by owning the first Frankel colt to win one of the English classic races.
His three-year-old Eminent won the Group III Craven Stakes (1600 metres) at Newmarket on Thursday (Friday NZ time) in his blue and white colours to shorten to 8-1 for the English 2000 Guineas, to be run at the same course over the same distance on May 6.
It was Eminent's second race win from as many starts for trainer Martyn Meade, whose son-in-law Dermot Farrington bought the colt for Vela at the 2015 Tattersalls yearlings sales for just 150,000 guineas (NZ$288,000).
That was believed to be the cheapest price paid in England for a colt from Frankel's first crop and was considered a steal given the cost to send a mare to Frankel is £125,000 (NZ$230,000).
The reason for the low price was many thought he was too big and gangly, according to The Telegraph.
Eminent proved the stronger horse over the closing stages of Thursday's race, with his jockey, Jim Crowley, taking an age to pull him up - a similar trait to what his father used to do when he was racing.
Meade told The Telegraph he expected the horse to stay a lot further, but was happy to test him at the mile at this stage.
"At home he lollops away and you don't know how fast he's going. He doesn't look fast. We could have gone a mile and one in the Feilden [Stakes over 1811m] but we said 'let's find out if he's fast enough for a mile' and he's proved it against group horses.
"I don't have to say anything about his temperament. He needs entertaining and if you entertain him he's fine. He was primed but not 100 per cent today as it was a trial," he told the Telegraph.
Crowley, who rode Eminent in his lone race last year as a two-year-old, said he expected the horse to continue to get better.
"He was the best two-year-old I rode last year. He was first out of the stalls and I was able to take him back and get a tow. He only hit top gear approaching the line and the quicker they go the better."
Eminent will face stiff opposition in the Guineas, with Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien preparing current 6-4 ($2.50) favourite Churchill, who was the champion two-year-old in Europe last year after winning five races, including two Group Is.
The second-favourite was French raider Al Wukair at 4-1 for trainer Andre Fabre after storming home to win a Group III race at Maisons-Laffitte on April 10.
Frankel was undefeated in his 14-race career before retiring to stud in 2012.