Friday, October 11, 2013

Unpretentious claims Schillaci Stakes

NIKKI Burke has known for a long time that her talented sprinter Unpretentious was Group 1 class.

Finally, after a series of frustrating injuries that have restricted the now five-year-old to just 10 starts, Unpretentious ($4) shrugged off the potential tag with a game Group 2 win in Saturday's $220,000 Schillaci Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield.

Buoyed by the first Group race win for Unpretentious, Burke will now target the Group 1 $1m Patinack (1200m) down the Flemington straight on the final day of the Melbourne Cup carnival.

"Thank God, that's all I can say. There's a lot of pressure off," she said

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"He's been a really unlucky horse, he probably should have another five or six races. The 1000m was always going to be a bit short, I can't wait to get him to Flemington," she said. Unpretentious won down the Flemington straight on Melbourne Cup day last year.

Unpretentious was racing for the first time since November last year after an injury enforced lay-off.

"He's got a few little muscle problems but basically he's 100 per cent sound now. He's strong and grown up so hopeful he's ready to go now," she said.

Part-owner, Collingwood premiership player Michael Christian, jested to jockey Damien Oliver pre-race "to do a carbon copy of the Lion Of Belfort ride" referring to Oliver's ability to weave a passage in heavy traffic to win the previous race the Blue Sapphire.

Oliver did just that and had to use all his skills when Pago Rock came with an unimpeded run while he switched around heels on Unpretentious.

"Pago Rock got a half length on me, but when I asked him he answered really strong. Nikki's a hard worker and good trainer, she deserves this," he said.

"He's a nice horse who hasn't enjoyed a lot of luck because of his pattern of racing but today the small field really helped."

As Christian pointed out, this was not a vintage Schillaci given Black Caviar won in 2010-11 and previous recent winners included Miss Andretti (2006). "But this is fantastic," he said.

Unpretentious scored by a head from Pago Rock ($9) with 2 ¼ lengths to tiring favourite Kuroshio ($2.40) who was unable to lead clearly as he did at Moonee Valley at his previous start.

Cranbourne-based Burke said she knew the first day Unpretentious hit the track the gelding was a serious galloper.

"I just said 'wow'. Then Ivan Culliver and Mark Flaherty said after they rode him for the first time this is the best horse you've ever trained," he said.


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