Beckford in top trim for Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket

Mon 25 Sep 2017
Beckford Curragh 102

By staff

Gordon Elliott will have his first runner in a British Group One when Beckford lines up in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

Beckford, a son of Juddmonte’s exciting young stallion, Bated Breath, was one of seven Irish contenders among the 15 colts to remain engaged for this prestigious six-furlong contest following Monday's confirmation stage.

Winner of the Group 2 Railway Stakes at The Curragh in July, he has since twice finished runner-up in Group 1 company – first behind one of his potential Juddmonte Middle Park opponents, Sioux Nation, in the Phoenix Stakes, and then, when stepped up to seven furlongs, in the National Stakes.

Beckford is sure to have a vocal local cheer squad on Saturday, as he was bred by Joyce Wallsgrove, the Stables Manager at Newmarket Racecourses.

Elliott said: “Beckford has come out of the National Stakes well and the plan is to run him in the Juddmonte Middle Park.

“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 1 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.”

The eight-strong home entry is led by Prix Morny winner Unfortunately.

Karl Burke's juvenile caused a minor upset when landing the Prix Robert Papin at Maisons-Laffitte in July, but proved that was no fluke when seeing off stablemate Havana Grey at Deauville last month.

The Society Rock colt, who has recently been snapped up by Cheveley Park Stud, has been partnered by French-based jockey Tony Piccone on his last two starts, but champion jockey Jim Crowley will get the leg-up on the Rowley Mile.

Burke said: "Obviously it's Arc weekend at Chantilly, so there are jockeys riding there as well as at Newmarket. I came up with a list of three possible jockeys, put them to the owners and Jim was top of the list.

"Jim has ridden plenty of winners for me in the past and we're delighted to have him on board."

Aidan O'Brien has won the prize on four previous occasions and has four contenders for this year's renewal, headed by Sioux Nation. The son of Scat Daddy claimed the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot in June and followed up in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.

The Ballydoyle handler could also call on Declarationofpeace, Fleet Review and U S Navy Flag. The Jessica Harrington-trained Brother Bear and Romanised from Ken Condon's yard are other potential challengers from Ireland.

Andrew Balding has supplemented Danzan, who was runner-up in a valuable sales race at Doncaster recently.

Richard Spencer's Coventry Stakes hero Rajasinghe and Richard Fahey's Gimcrack scorer Sands Of Mali add further strength in depth.

Cardsharp (Mark Johnston), Frozen Angel (Tom Dascombe), Hey Jonesy (Kevin Ryan) and Never Back Down (Hugo Palmer) are the other hopefuls.

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