Caloundra two-year-old Eric The Eel will complete an ugly duckling story if he can win the Listed Phoenix Stakes at Doomben.
The youngster goes to Saturday’s 1630m-race as a lead-up to the Group One J J Atkins Stakes a week later at Eagle Farm.
Eric The Eel has attracted a fan base because of his name but is rapidly proving himself on the racetrack with two wins and a second from his past three starts.
It was only by chance Eric The Eel ended up in the stables of Caloundra trainer Stuart Kendrick.
“I was with owner Neil Douglas at the June sales on the Gold Coast and got talking with someone from Arrowfield Stud,” Kendrick said.
“He said they were offering a colt by Olympic Glory who was a very nice mover and wouldn’t be too costly.
“Neil and I were sitting in the sales ring and out came this gangly colt. When no-one bid Neil put his hand up and got him for $7000.
“He has bloomed into a lovely big horse and he is already a bargain as he has earned $39,000.”
Kendrick said Eric The Eel had already shown he was effective on a quick back-up, so Saturday’s race was a perfect fit and he was a better chance than his name would suggest.
He is named for Olympic swimmer Eric Malonga who represented Equatorial Guinea in 2000 and recorded the slowest 50m-time in the history of the Games.
“When he came into the stable being by Olympic Glory he was nicknamed Bolt after champion sprinter Usain Bolt,” Kendrick said.
“When it came time to name him there was nothing available around Usain Bolt so the owners decided to go the other way.
“They tried to get Eddie The Eagle but in the end they got Eric The Eel named after Eric Malonga.
“So he has gone from being named after the world’s fastest runner to the Olympic world’s slowest swimmer.”