Olympic eventer aims for another training first — before Badminton

Sir Mark Todd is set to add another “first” to his extraordinary international equestrian career by running He’s Eminent, the Flat racehorse he took over training earlier this year, in a Group One in Hong Kong next Sunday (28 April).

If He’s Eminent, who finished a close second for Sir Mark in a Grade One in Australia at the end of March, runs well, he will return to Britain for a crack at the Group One Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

He’s Eminent, a son of Frankel, won a Group Two for his previous trainer, Martyn Meade, but Mark was asked to take on the five-year-old by his owners, who include Sir Peter Vela, owner of Sir Mark’s 2011 Badminton winner Land Vision.

“Frankie” ran in two races in Australia for Mark in March and April. In the first, the G1 Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill, he put up a superb effort to finish second.

Mark said: “He ran a cracker of a race and we were thrilled. It was heavy ground, which he had never run on, and he just got a little leg-weary in the last 150m and Avilius, a mudlark, ran him down.”

He’s Eminent then ran disappointingly in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick behind the mighty Winx, who was having the last run of her glittering career.

“I was confident of a good run, but between the jockey [James McDonald] and I we made the stupid decision to run He’s Eminent in earmuffs, because he does get quite wound up and there was a huge buzz and atmosphere because of Winx. We also didn’t want him to be too fierce out in front, because we wanted him to lead,” Mark explained.

“The earmuffs completely switched him off. He fell out of the stalls, and was out the back of the field and totally lost interest.”

But connections have taken the decision to run him in Hong Kong in the HK£24m (£2.35m) Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Sha Tin – without earmuffs – with the hope of putting up a good enough performance to earn a flight back to Britain to run at Royal Ascot, delaying his future stud career in New Zealand.

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Mark returned to Britain to ride his event horses and to compete Badminton entry NZB Campino at Bicton Arena — where they won the open intermediate, finishing on their dressage score of 23.6 — before flying to Hong Kong. He will return after the race and immediately take NZB Campino to Badminton.

“After Badminton I will concentrate on building up the training more,” said Mark, who trained successfully in New Zealand in his eight-year hiatus from eventing between 2000 and 2008.

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