Reigning Australian Racecourse of the Year Lankan Rupee looks set to continue his winning form well into the new year after trainer Mick Price revealed the gelding’s 2015 autumn carnival plans.
Price revealed that Lankan Rupee will defend his title in both the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 14 and Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 4 after resuming his campaign in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) first up on February 21.
“He’ll go into pre-training next week and will probably run in the Lightning first up on February 21,” Price told Racing Victoria.
“If he kicks off in the Lightning it gives us three weeks to the Newmarket and that race then gives us three weeks to the T.J. Smith which at the moment looks like the plan.”
Lankan Rupee impressively won all four of his starts during the autumn this year and has placed in all of his last 12 starts.
The five-year-old won the 2014 Newmarket Handicap by two and a half lengths, thrashing a top field when he showed speed from a wide draw up the middle, making it near the front without cover before accelerating at 400m out.
He again showed brilliant form three weeks later in the 2014 TJ Smith Stakes, which he won two lengths clear of runner-up Rebel Dane. He jumped well from the inside gate and took the lead early before easing out to the middle of the track at the turn and kicking further ahead at the 300m mark and getting to the line well for a dominant win.
Price has chosen the 2015 Lightning Stakes over the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) as Lankan Rupee’s first up race due to weight allocation. While the gelding won the race back in February, to return and defend his title he would carry at least 59kg.
“He’d get 59kg in the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) minimum and in terms of the Newmarket the maximum weight he’d likely get is 59kg so I think they would be the logical three runs for him at this stage,” Price said.
Lankan Rupee suffered a quarter-crack during the spring that caused the gelding to miss the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1000m) in October. He was also shockingly beat in both the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) and Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) before a cracking win in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) that saw all 13 runners finish under three lengths from each other.
Price reassured that the gelding is completely over his hoof injury and ready to tackle the autumn.
“His feet are really good. He’s got a full set of shoes on and his feet have grown out really well,” he said.
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