Middle Park preview: Unfortunately 'in great nick' for showdown at Newmarket

Fri 29 Sep 2017

By Racinguk.com staff

Trainer Karl Burke is confident Unfortunately will make his presence felt in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

After causing a minor upset when seeing off high-class filly Heartache in the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte, Unfortunately returned to France to claim Group One glory in the Prix Morny, leading home stablemate Havana Grey to give Burke a one-two.

He has subsequently been snapped up by leading owner-breeders Cheveley Park Stud and with champion jockey Jim Crowley on board for the first time, Burke feels everything points to a big performance on the Rowley Mile.

"He's in great nick and looks really well," said the Spigot Lodge-based trainer. "It's a tough race, but he hasn't let us down yet and I'm sure he'll put up a big show. There's probably not a length between three or four colts on their form.

"The ground definitely won't be an issue. He ran on the track in his opening maiden and didn't particularly come down the hill great from the dip, but that was first time out. I'm not unduly worried about that."

The Society Rock colt has come from fairly humble beginnings having been beaten on three of his first four starts, but the application of a visor has seen him raise his game to a different level.

Burke has always felt his charge had masses of potential. "I told plenty of people he was a good horse early on and I expected him to run very well in his first maiden at Newmarket. There were two or three good horses in that and he got beaten three and a half lengths and finished fifth but, like all of ours, he improved a bundle," Burke continued.

"I think the main thing is the visor - it has found a lot of improvement. He's not an ungenuine horse, but he just showed signs on a couple of occasions he wasn't fully concentrated and when we worked him in the visor at home, he worked really, really well.

"The twice he's had the visor on the track he's won two Group races, so hopefully he can make it three out of three."

Unfortunately is one of three northern-trained contenders in the 12-strong field along with Mark Johnston's Cardsharp and the Richard Fahey-trained Sands Of Mali.

Sands Of Mali was, for many, a surprise winner of the Gimcrack Stakes at York last month, but it was not a shock to his trainer.

"We were very, very pleased with winning the Gimcrack. It's a northern race we like to try and win and we've been second in it a couple of times, so it was great to get his head in front," Fahey told www.sportinglife.com.

"He's a very talented horse and we're very happy with him.

"He's progressing nicely and he's rated 116, which puts him as one of the better two-year-olds of the season. I wouldn't swap him for anything."

Aidan O'Brien has saddled four previous winners of the six-furlong contest and sends a formidable quartet into battle.

Ryan Moore has sided with Sioux Nation over U S Navy Flag (Seamie Heffernan), Fleet Review (Donnacha O'Brien) and Declarationofpeace (Wayne Lordan).

Of Royal Ascot and Phoenix Stakes winner Sioux Nation, O'Brien said: "He's in good form and has had a little break since the Curragh. The better the ground, the better for all of them."

Beckford was runner-up behind Sioux Nation in the Phoenix before chasing home Verbal Dexterity in the National Stakes.

Leading National Hunt trainer Gordon Elliott is searching for a first top-level success on the level, and said: "Beckford has come out of the National Stakes well.

"He didn't get home over seven furlongs on a testing surface that day and this drop back to six on better ground should be in his favour. Newmarket is a proper racecourse and I don't think he will have any problem handling its undulations.

"It would be very nice to win a Group One on the Flat but don't worry, there is no chance that I will be switching my attention away from jump racing - I have absolutely no plans to do that."

Rajasinghe won the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot for young trainer Richard Spencer before finishing third behind Cardsharp, also in this 12-strong field, in the July Stakes at Newmarket.

Part-owner Phil Cunningham said: "We think we're going in as something of a forgotten horse. He's only run once since Royal Ascot and because of that people have forgotten how well he did to win there.

"We decided to go for the July Stakes and I know 3lb doesn't sound much, but for two-year-olds it is. It's so hard to win with a penalty.

"He's coming in fresh and he's exactly where we want him. The worry is if the ground went very soft, I don't think that would suit him."

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