How Frankel's Classic contender Eminent 'slipped through the cracks'
Son of a £125,000 cover was sold for 150,000gns
What constitutes a bargain can change dramatically in a very short space of time where thoroughbreds are concerned, but if Eminent can land the Qipco 2,000 Guineas on Saturday his connections will rightly feel that they have conducted a particularly shrewd bit of business.
Back in 2015 opinions seemed divided over the merits of Frankel's first crop, with prices at Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale ranging from 130,000gns to 750,000gns.
Eminent was the very first yearling by Frankel to come on the market at public auction. But despite boasting an immaculate pedigree - he is out of 2009 Fillies’ Mile third You’ll Be Mine, a Kingmambo half-sister to Pretty Polly Stakes winner Diamondsandrubies, out of Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Quarter Moon - he fetched just 150,000gns when signed for in a private deal by Dermot Farrington.
Granted, that sum is not exactly small change, but nor is it over the odds for a colt by Frankel - retired at a fee of £125,000 after a sensational unbeaten career. The fact is that the market sent out mixed messages when assessing the young sire's first foals. How those who let Eminent slip through the net must now rue not having raised their hands.
"We buy as a team, me, Martyn [Meade, trainer] and his son, Freddie," Farrington explained. "Type is the most important thing for us, but when you see a horse by Frankel out of a Kingmambo mare that's Group 1-placed at two from one of the best families in the stud book - you keep an eye on those!"
Farrington and team Meade were suitably impressed when they inspected the young colt during Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Sale, but did not hold much hope of the March-born yearling coming within budget.
"We thought he'd be a half a million quid yearling and I still don't understand why he wasn't," said the agent. "There was nothing wrong with him, maybe people were put off because he's tall, I don't know. Sometimes people expect those horses to make so much money that they can end up slipping through the cracks.
"We keep an eye on that sort of stuff. When they fail to make what you expect, it can go either way. But luckily enough for us he can gallop. This is why you should never give up - if you don't pay attention, you might just see the horse getting sold for less than you expect."
This is not the first time Farrington has made a notable purchase by Frankel - albeit La Figlia came with a significantly bigger price tag.
The filly, the fifth foal produced by the 2007 dual 1,000 Guineas heroine Finsceal Beo, brought a bid of €1,800,000 from the agent on behalf of charismatic owner Paul Makin during the Goffs November Foal Sale back in 2014. She is in training with Jeremy Noseda.
"She's not too far off a start," Farrington said. "She was supposed to run during the Craven meeting but everything is on track with her, everyone's very happy with her and hopefully she'll turn out to be as good as she's bred to be!
"One thing that's obvious about Frankel's progeny is that it doesn't matter what shape or make they are, but they all seem to gallop. Although obviously we didn't know that when we bought Eminent."
Quite how fast that colt can gallop will be established over the Rowley Mile at around 3.35pm on Saturday, and the Irishman exuded a quiet confidence.
"It's a small field but it's a field of horses that are all very high-calibre," he said. "If he turns up like he did the last day, and you'd expect him to have improved a bit, and they go a good gallop, sure, why not? Any horse that can win a maiden and then come back and win a Craven from just two starts must have a big chance."