Frankel: Racing legend's first chance to father a Classic winner

Tom Queally riding Frankel
Frankel retired unbeaten after his 2012 Champion Stakes win at Ascot
2,000 and 1,000 Guineas on the BBC
Dates: Saturday, 6 May and Sunday, 7 May Venue: Newmarket
Coverage: Commentary will be available on BBC Radio 5 live at 15:35 BST

A colt that nobody wanted could be the one to prove Frankel really is 'the Daddy' as the champion racehorse-turned-stallion gets his hotly anticipated first chance to father a Classic winner.

The oldest of Frankel's offspring are now aged three - part of the 'Classic generation' - and four of them are due to contest the first two of British flat racing's historic features, the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

Colts Eminent and Dream Castle have the 2,000 Guineas in their sights, while it's the 1,000 Guineas, open to fillies only, for Fair Eva and Queen Kindly.

Because of their famous sire, considerable interest surrounds the quartet, though perhaps most of all the Jim Crowley-ridden Eminent - winner, in a record-breaking time, of the Craven Stakes, at Newmarket in April.

Despite his parentage, Eminent was considered likely to be anything but when offered for auction at Newmarket's Tattersalls Yearling Sales in October 2015.

After failing to reach his reserve price, the bay-coloured youngster was secured by trainer Martyn Meade in a deal struck outside the ring with breeder Premier Bloodstock, part of the Irish-based Coolmore racing empire.

(From top left to right) Frankel's offspring Eminent, Queen Kindly and Cunco
Frankel's offspring Eminent, Queen Kindly and Cunco in action

While the figure of 150,000 guineas - £157,500 - is hardly to be sniffed at, it's one of the lowest for any progeny of Frankel, the winner of 14 races from as many starts.

Indeed, the top price paid at auction for a son or daughter of the brilliant champion, with whom matings are advertised at £125,000, is 1.8m guineas (£1.89m) for a colt named Elarqam, trained by Mark Johnston.

Now the once-disregarded Eminent, known in his stable as 'Frank' and one of his dad's impressive tally of 18 individual two-year-old winners in 2016, is poised to become a horse everyone wants to know.

In a good quality staging of the 2,000 Guineas, he's fourth favourite just behind Churchill, Barney Roy and Al Wukair.

Meade told BBC Sport: "I can only assume that the people that looked at him [at Tattersalls] considered that he was going to take a long time to mature.

"The immediate thing that I saw was a similarity to Frankel, certainly in his head, and just his general presence, a great walk.

"The first hurdle was to get him to win: everyone else was firing them in, and I thought 'oh my God, what happens if we fire a dud here, this won't be too good', but luckily that hasn't been the case."

It's now six years since Frankel, trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil for Saudi prince Khalid Abdullah, and ridden by jockey Tom Queally, himself won the 2,000 Guineas.

Sir Henry Cecil with Frankel
Sir Henry Cecil with Frankel

It was a virtuoso performance in which the horse, whose sometimes-volatile temperament tested the skills of the Cecil team, ran his rivals ragged pretty much from the start.

Individuality can take some managing, but Meade describes Eminent, owned by New Zealand racing tycoon Sir Peter Vela, simply as "playful".

"He's a horse that always needs to have attention; he's got to be kept amused, kept active, and I wouldn't like to have to sit on him that's for sure," Meade said.

"How Glenn [Osborn], who rides him, sits on him sometimes I'm not sure - he can be quite a monster to sit on, but playful with it.

"I thought he was going to be a handful at the races, especially the first time, but in fact when we got there he was absolutely perfect, and at the Craven an absolute gentleman."

In contrast to Frankel's success on the racecourse and what he's already achieving at stud, Meade, 69, has taken his time to reach racing's summit.

Frankel's offspring Eminent
This is the first year Frankel's offspring, as three-year-olds, could potentially line up for Classic races such as the Guineas and Derby

A keen horseman in his youth, the trainer of 50 horses at Newmarket's well-appointed Sefton Lodge stables, where owners include England fast bowler Jimmy Anderson, first held a licence in the 1970s.

Then based in Wiltshire, Meade initially concentrated on national hunt racing, which he combined with a highly successful business career.

Once known as a businessman-cum-trainer, life is now all about the horses, though he retains a non-executive position in investment company Hadleigh Partners.

Perhaps it's the discipline gained by the boss during years in the boardroom, but for an operation with a potential break-through race approaching all seems very cool and calm.

"It's quite quiet and controlled really, but we do have a very good system here which means no-one rushes about or anything like that," Meade said.

"I think that with this horse we are only just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg.

"There is no doubt that the mile [Guineas distance] is his minimum trip - the Derby is the dream for later - and he's still very inexperienced, improving, and we think he's the real deal."

Team Meade seeking Guineas eminence, Frankel even more.