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Controlling the race from the front may have won Lankan Rupee the 2014 Manikato Stakes but trainer Mick Price is set to try different tactics in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Although the five-year-old gelding has had no issue over the past 18 months, finishing first three in all eleven of his last starts (eight of which were wins), he faces new challenges in the 2014 Darley Classic – most notably in the form of Chautauqua and Slade Power.
It could be argued that Chautauqua is the country’s best sprinter after winning the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) by four lengths last time out, but Lankan Rupee is nipping at his heels. With the pair taking different routes this season, the Darley Classic will be their first clash.
Add Irish sprinter Slade Power, who won back-to-back Group One races in Britain before making the journey out to Australia for his swan song, and you’ve got an exciting weight-for-age sprint. It’s no wonder Price feels he needs to adopt some new tactics for Lankan Rupee.
Price noted that the tight turning Moonee Valley track and the straight course at Flemington warrant entirely different styles of running, and bursting to the lead like he did in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) would be a disadvantage to Lankan Rupee.
“It is totally different to Moonee Valley, we rode to suit Moonee Valley on the night. We had a bad experience chasing Buffering the start before so we didn’t want to chase him again,” Price told TVN.
“The race was put on at Moonee Valley for the nice horses to finish off, it will be totally different tomorrow because the first 600m they stack up a bit and then improve from the 600m to the 400m and whoosh home.
“We hope from where we are Driefontein may take it up and we could take a tag on her.
“Chad (Schofield, jockey) is a good judge of pace and that is basically what I’ll be telling him, you run your first three (furlongs) under a hold, rate your horse, totally different to Moonee Valley, home they go and the best horse wins.”
Lankan Rupee is currently second-favourite in the Darley Classic betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au at $5.50, ahead of Slade Power ($6) but neither is a match for favourite Chautauqua at $2.30.
While Price is happy with his gelding’s condition, he remains fearful of Chautauqua. Noting the favourite is without a doubt the horse to beat on Saturday.
“I think the horse to beat is Chautauqua, I think he is very suited on the straight six. He is trained there, he has raced there, he has had a little freshen between runs, his sectional times are excellent and he hasn’t looked like he has been under pressure to do that,” he said.
The 2014 Darley Classic is one of two Group One races making up the final Melbourne Cup Carnival race day.
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