Wise Eagle proving his worth

Article from Racing Post by Tom Peacock Bloodstock features writer, 8th May 2023


Sometimes a bit of a tip-off is enough when trying to rummage through the many yellow-ticketed items in the corners of a busy horses in training sale.

Agent Marcus Collie had been helping aspiring trainer Adam Nicol to find an inexpensive purchase to get him going at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale in 2020 when Tom Clover pointed them in the direction of Wise Eagle, a minor Lingfield maiden winner who looked as if he had lost his way.

Two and a half years later and that £7,000 purchase threatens to become one of the stories of the season, having won the valuable Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh before last week threatening to upstage some well-known rivals in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes and sticking on for a good second behind Coltrane.

“Adam was basically looking for something dual-purpose but mainly really to go juvenile hurdling,” says Collie.

“Tom Clover, who’s a friend, grabbed us and said, ‘I’ve got this horse that’s selling today, he doesn’t suit Newmarket, come and have a look’.

“So we did. We liked him going round the paddock before he went into the ring; he’s a lovely, correct, tidy type of horse, and we followed him in. There were definitely a few umms and ahhs around five and six grand, it was quite funny and Adam was wondering if it was enough for him, but we got him in the end.”

Nicol and an owner in his stable split the chestnut up into a few small shares for the Seahouses Syndicate and a month and a half later the son of Free Eagle was ready to go.

“He ran first at Catterick in a juvenile hurdle and then everything got frozen off so he ran in a jumpers’ bumper and won it; that’s when they decided to keep him on the Flat,” says Collie.

Prior to Wise Eagle, Nicol’s claim to fame was being the rider of Phil Kirby’s magnificent dual-purpose mare Lady Buttons. Collie got to know him through mutual acquaintances that Nicol rode for, DJ Jeffreys and Sam Thomas.

Along with the undoubted star of the small stable and Nicol’s first winner in January 2021, they have combined for success with handicapper Quercus Robur, for Lady Buttons’ owner Jayne Sivills, and have been going close with another £5,000 bargain, Economic Editor.

Collie is pretty sure the switch from racing’s headquarter to the remote Northumbrian coast has been beneficial for Wise Eagle.

“Adam trains on the beach a lot, he takes him up and down there and he says after they’ve finished their work he charges into the sea, he absolutely loves the sea,” he says. “I think Adam has obviously trained him very well.”

Having gone through the ring a few times early in his life for small money in the grand scheme of things, Wise Eagle has now won a remarkable 11 times in 25 starts for Nicol and earned around £150,000 in prize-money.

He even has an entry in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, an idea that hardly seems as far-fetched after his recent performance at the course.

Collie agrees, saying: “Adam’s said now that he’s probably going to stay in that division, and I get the feeling Coltrane is probably about the best stayer around, with Aidan O’Brien’s good horse [Kyprios] being injured, Stradivarius retired and Trueshan has had a lot of hard races and maybe that’s left its mark.

“I think they’ll certainly look at races like the Goodwood Cup and Doncaster, there are lots of races over two miles and it’ll be interesting to see if they go for the Gold Cup.”

An agent for the last few years who buys horses for both National Hunt and Flat clients, former professional polo player Collie was celebrating another quite different result only a few hours later when Rockstar Ronnie pulled away in the Grand Annual Steeplechase at Warrnambool, one of Australia’s flagship and most historic jumping events. Collie had found the gelding as a store at Goffs before he had a successful career with Dan Skelton.

“I bought him for €10,000 for some point-to-point guys,” he adds. “I think he won something like £250,000 the other day, so it was a good 24 hours for the cheapies!”

Free Eagle stands for €5,000. For further information please contact our office on 045-521251.

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