Eminent will need some of his champion trainer’s gold medal-winning form to have any chance at a Group One victory during Sydney’s autumn carnival.
Star jockey James McDonald said the five-year-old felt terrific after he gave him a workout at the Canterbury Racecourse quarantine centre on Wednesday.
McDonald said the unknown question is whether Eminent can recapture his form in time for March 23 to be competitive in the Gr.1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens.
New trainer Sir Mark Todd told reporters the team still did not know what to expect of the regally-bred son of Frankel since he had only taken the horse into his care in October.
“We’ve come here knowing that at his best he’s a very good horse but we’ve still got some questions to answer,” Todd said.
“Even when I was training I never ran a horse first-up over 2000m so we’re in unknown territory.”
The dual New Zealand Olympic equestrian gold medallist, who has not trained racehorses in more than a decade, had to hurriedly get his licence before taking over from English trainer Martyn Meade.
“Obviously Martyn Meade did a very good job in his early stages. Eminent was a good two-year-old and a very good three-year-old,” he said.
Todd has had previous success in training during the early 2000s before he returned to eventing, having won the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks (2400m) with Bramble Rose and the 2007 Gr.1 Wellington Cup (3200m) with Willy Smith.
A long-time lover of racing, he has also booked Eminent for a clash with champion mare Winx in the Gr.1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) on April 13.
“Winx is not just an Australian icon she’s worldwide,” Todd said.
“If we go well in the Ranvet and get a chance to run there it would be an amazing occasion to be a part of it and hopefully our horse is good enough he can make it into a horse race.”
Principally owned by New Zealand Bloodstock’s Sir Peter Vela, Eminent raced in Europe where he had several wins including a French Group Two race in 2017 before a drop in form last year left him unplaced in all four runs, three at Group One level.
En route to stud in New Zealand, Eminent spent time doing dressage and jumps work with Todd before it was decided to try the entire in Australia for one last season.
The 63-year-old will return to the United Kingdom following the Queen Elizabeth to compete in the Badminton Horse Trials but said he hopes to get a few more horses to train.
“I’ve always loved racing so we’ll just see what happens,” he said.
– NZ Racing Desk