The world’s current highest rated sprinter Lankan Rupee will face off against eight brave rivals on Saturday at Moonee Valley when the triple Group 1 champion resumes racing in the McEwen Stakes 2014.
This year’s $200,000 Group 2 Mitty’s McEwen Stakes (1000m) runs as one of two Group features in Melbourne on the weekend and the Mick Price-trained Lankan Rupee is set to start the odds-on favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au.
It will be the Redoute’s Choice gelding’s first run of the new season and his first start since adding a third straight Group 1 win to his record when beating home Rebel Dane and Buffering in the TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick on April 12.
On Saturday the Group 1 bound galloper jumps from the outside barrier (9) with Craig Newitt in the saddle, the hoop having ridden the now five-year-old for his wins in the TJ Smith Stakes as well as the Oakleigh Plate in February at Caulfield.
Price has been talking up the first-up chances of his stable ace this week too following Lankan Rupee’s nice piece of trackwork at Moonee Valley on Tuesday morning.
He galloped with stablemate Lion Of Belfort and finished first over the 800m running the final 400m in 23.9 seconds and Price tips him to be first past the post in the McEwen as well.
“I’ll be pretty smashed up if he doesn’t perform right up to his best and run really well on Saturday,” he told AAP.
“I think he’ll win.”
Following Lankan Rupee in the ratings is then the Nikki Burke-trained Unpretentious, the Stratum gelding first-up here for his first run since a disappointing seventh in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) in Adelaide back in May.
Before that the now six-year-old had a nice run at Moonee Valley when beaten under a quarter length to run third behind Spirit Of Boom in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m), nice form ahead of the McEwen.
Unpretentious also runs well fresh boasting three wins from five first-up starts and so is in a nice position to finish closer than his ninth to Lankan Rupee back on March 8 in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington.
A promising type in the mix facing a tough assignment against the favourite here is then the Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young-trained Cauthen.
Drawn nicely in barrier three the Darci Brahma four-year-old returns to the track where he beat home subsequent Cox Plate winner Shamus Award in the Listed McKenzie Stakes (1200m) last August.
Since then Cauthen has had just the two starts having pulled up with thumps at his next start last September forcing a lengthy break from which he returned when a narrow second over 1200m at home in January.
“He’s a big, strong impressive horse. He’s beaten Long John and Shamus Award and then things went wrong,” co-trainer Busuttin told The New Zealand Herald this week.
While he hasn’t raced for seven months, Cauthen ran well in a gallop at Moonee Valley on Tuesday with Damien Oliver aboard and looked on track for a nice first-up run.
“Ollie [Damien Oliver] said he seemed to work nicely this morning through the heavy going and he had a good blow afterwards,” Busuttin said yesterday.
“He’ll certainly take improvement from whatever he does on Saturday.
“Ollie trialled him up last Friday and was pleased with how he went so we expect a good run on Saturday.”
Other nice types in the race include Robbie Griffith’s Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes runner-up Angelic Light, the Godolphin-owned Exceed And Excel colt Orujo coming off a sixth in this year’s McKenzie and the promising young filly Eloping.
Elopoing gets the 50kg light weight on the weekend under the weight-for-age conditions and so meets Lankan Rupee 8.5kg better off.
She is first-up here having last run fourth to Brazen Beau in the Group 2 Champagne Classic (1200m) at Doomben in May, goes well over the distance but races at Moonee Valley for the first time here.
See below for the full McEwen Stakes 2014 field, barriers, jockeys and weights.
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2014 McEwen Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Moonee Valley Race 5 (2:45pm) – 06/09/2014
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||1311x1111x||LANKAN RUPEE||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||9||58.5kg||118|
|2||695735108x||IT IS WRITTEN||Robbie Griffiths||Matthew Allen||4||58.5kg||100|
|3||3x19x5937x||UNPRETENTIOUS||Nikki Burke||Craig Williams||5||58.5kg||102|
|4||5712238410||OUR NKWAZI||Shawn Mathrick||Dwayne Dunn||8||58.5kg||90|
|5||079×035546||ACADEMY JACK||Dale Short||Nicholas Hall||6||58.5kg||82|
|6||1210x2x||CAUTHEN (NZ)||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||–||3||58.5kg||82|
|7||64x32512x3||ANGELIC LIGHT||Robbie Griffiths||Ryan Maloney||1||56.5kg||93|
|8||5x212x16||ORUJO||John O’Shea||Tommy Berry||7||52kg||71|
|9||11241714x||ELOPING||Peter Morgan & Craig Widdison||Ms Linda Meech||2||50kg||88|