Nikki Burke’s progressive Cranbourne galloper Unpretentious has suffered a serious career setback having been ruled out of the autumn racing season including what was to be their first-up run, the 2013 Lightning Stakes, due to a throat infection.
The field for this year’s $500,000 Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1200m), run at Flemington Racecourse on February 16 as one of the early Melbourne Festival of Racing majors, is likely to be a diminutive one with few brave enough to face the dual defending champ and now the race’s namesake Black Caviar.
Stratum four-year-old Unpretentious was to be one of the few brave enough to take on the world’s best mare when the Peter Moody-trained superstar resumes racing in the 2013 Lightning Stakes vying for her 23rd win from as many starts.
However a throat infection has ruled them out of not only the Lightning but the remainder of the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival where their other main target was to be the $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) on March 9.
“We were going to resume in the Lightning before going to the Newmarket Handicap but there is definitely no Melbourne Autumn now,” Burke said.
The problem was discovered after Unpretentious made a lot of noise during a trial on Monday, jockey Craig Williams pointing out the issue.
“Craig came back and said he had been making a noise and the vets have found a partially entrapped epiglottis,” Burke said.
“He has never had any issues there before so it is really something out of the blue.”
Unpretentious, who was rated a $17 chance in the Newmarket Handicap odds has had just 10 career starts to date which have produced three wins and three minor placings.
Their most notable win was in a Listed Flemington feature on Melbourne Cup Day last year when they overcame barrier 17 of 20 with Williams in the mount.
After that they had their most recent run on November 17 at Sandown running a close third behind Stradbroke Handicap winner Mid Summer Music in the Listed Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m).
While the autumn is off the cards Burke remains hopeful they will not require surgery and can be back for a big spring at the end of the year.
“It’s improved a hell of a lot since Monday and the vets are hopeful that once the inflammation comes down, that it might be ok,” they said.
“Hopefully we can just get him back and get him right because he’s the most gifted horse I’ve ever had.”
Lightning Stakes 2013 nominations are due to be taken on Monday, February 11.
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