Mark Weinfeld admits the decision to supplement Telecaster for the Investec Derby at a cost of £85,000 was “painful” – but with Anapurna in the Oaks too, it could still turn into a dream weekend for Meon Valley Stud.
Weinfeld is managing director at the famous stud which has produced such champions as Milligram, Izzi Top and and Speedy Boarding – who all raced in the famous silks, black with white spots and cap, registered as Helena Springfield Ltd.
While the journey of Anapurna to Epsom has been conventional, her dam Dash To The Top was a Meon Valley graduate and sent to visit Frankel, the story of Telecaster has caught the imagination en route to the most famous Classic.
The policy of Meon Valley is to keep the fillies but sell the colts. However, when Telecaster – by a Derby winner in New Approach and out of a dual Oaks runner-up in Shirocco Star – went through the sales ring, he failed to reach his reserve price, and Weinfeld kept him under the guise of Castle Down Racing.
That might be the end of most tales – but while Telecaster was initially entered in the Derby, because Hughie Morrison (who also trained Shirocco Star) did not feel he was ready to run at two, the decision was taken in March not to pay £1100 to keep him in.
Since then, of course, Telecaster has proven himself to be a top-class colt, finishing second to another Derby contender Bangkok on debut before winning by nine lengths at Windsor and then beating champion juvenile Too Darn Hot in the Dante at York.
Reflecting on this week’s commitment to extra expense, Weinfeld said: “The decision was painful, I’d say.
“It wasn’t taken lightly – we had to be absolutely satisfied that the horse was ok after he breezed on Monday.
“Anthony Oppenheimer faced a similar situation with (2015 Derby winner) Golden Horn – so we’re hoping for a similar outcome! I just hope he runs well, and to the best of his ability.”
Without allowing himself to think of winning both races, Weinfeld’s situation is an enviable one in a world in which his rivals are multi-millionaires. All Meon Valley graduates can be traced back to four foundation mares bought in the 1970s.
“I’m pinching myself and I have to keep asking if I’m dreaming – it’s a great moment,” he said.
“We don’t normally keep the colts. The only ones are the ones we don’t (manage to) sell, so it’s usually a maximum of one or two a year.
“We keep one or two of the fillies back to race for the stud in the Helena Springfield colours.
“Telecaster is bred for the job, we hope. We had a few offers for him before the Dante, and we said we’d follow them up if we were interested, but once he won at York we felt we’d got this far – so we may as well enjoy it and see where we go.
“I think it would be a lesser race without him. The Dante is the premier Derby trial really, so if the winner of it isn’t in the Derby it dilutes the race.
“We hope there’s no doubts about his stamina. You just never know with breeding. We may as well find out in the Derby.”
Anapurna is bidding to give Frankel a first British Classic win – and despite her brilliant sire never having raced over 12 furlongs himself, stamina looks her strong suit.
“Anapurna was doing her best work at the finish at Lingfield, so we’ve little doubt she’ll stay the trip,” said Weinfeld.
“Frankie (Dettori) is a great asset to have in the race, so she must have a chance too.
“I think it would be asking too much for them both to win – but if they both finish in the frame we’d be absolutely delighted.”