Leading British based New Zealand eventer Sir Mark Todd is making a return to racehorse training, taking over the care of Eminent for his Australian campaign – including his race against super mare Winx.
Eminent is owned by New Zealand Bloodstock principal Sir Peter Vela, who has owned several eventing horses with Todd. The five year-old son of Frankel and the G1 placed Kingmambo mare You’ll Be Mine was a Group Two winner for UK trainer Martyn Meade.
Vela and bloodstock agent Hubie de Burgh bought Meade out of the horse with the intention of sending him to stud in New Zealand, and sent him to Todd’s Wiltshire yard.
“Then I got a phone call, saying they were thinking of taking him to Australia to run in a couple of races before retiring. ‘And we want you to do it!’ they said.” Todd said.
“Sir Peter is one of the great sporting owners of the world – he embraced it when I started eventing
again and has never been afraid to think out of the box. What other owner would give me a chance to do this?”
Todd has taken out his training licence, and Eminent is now in quarantine in Newmarket and will fly to Australia on February 28.
Eminent is scheduled to run in two Gr.1 races over 2000m in Sydney – the Ranvet Stakes on March 23 and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on April 13 – and he also has an entry in the Doncaster Mile (Gr.1, 1600m).
“The plan is that I will be over there for six weeks if all goes well,” Todd said. “If everything goes right and he is able to reproduce his best form, I think he could be competitive. Beating Winx in the Queen Elizabeth would be a pretty tall order – but you’ve got to be in it to win it.
The winner of the Gr.3 Craven Stakes (1600m) at three, Eminent finished fourth in the Gr.1 Derby (2400m) and later won the Gr.2 Prix Guillaume d’Ornano (2000m) at Deauville before finishing third in the Gr.1 Irish Champion Stakes (2000m). His form dipped last season and he was unplaced in all of his four runs, three of them at Group One level.
Since he’s been with Todd, Eminent has done some flatwork and popped over a few fences – “letting him be a horse, not just a racehorse”.
“He’d probably be a nice event horse, although I don’t think that is what his owners have in mind!” said Todd, who has done all the riding work apart from the fast galloping work on the horse himself.
Todd earlier trained racehorses in New Zealand after retiring from eventing after the Sydney Olympics in 2000. His biggest successes came when training Bramble Rose to win the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks in 2003 and Willy Smith to win the Gr.1 Wellington Cup (3200m) in 2007, but he hung up his stopwatch shortly after the Cup victory, and returned to the sport of eventing.
“I’ve toyed with the idea of getting back into training,” Todd said. “But I don’t think it is something I want to do full-time. My wife Carolyn and I would like to have a few horses of our own, and maybe it will develop a bit, but I am not giving up eventing just yet.
“It is a great privilege to be allowed to train Eminent, and winning a Group One for Sir Peter would be wonderful.”