The in-form Darren Weir-trained Hellbent has opened clear favourite in the Caulfield Sprint 2016 field and betting markets to make it three wins on the trot this weekend on Caulfield Cup Day.
Running as Caulfield Race 9 at 5:10pm (AEDT) as the penultimate event on the bumper Saturday program, this year’s $200,000 Group 2 Dilmah For The Lovers of Tea Caulfield Sprint (1000m) features a final field of 11 short-distance specialists.
Leading the early Caulfield Sprint odds at Ladbrokes.com.au at a short $2.25 for the win, four-year-old I Am Invincible stallion Hellbent is drawn barrier seven with big race specialist Craig Williams to ride.
The galloper has won three of his four latest runs including over 1100m at the Caulfield track with Williams aboard last start on September 24.
He is undefeated over the shorter Caulfield Sprint distance (2-2-0-0) and after his 2.25 length demolition job in easier company last time out, looks ready for the step up in grade this weekend.
Hellbent gets in on the 53kg minimum, but at the opposite end of the Caulfield Sprint weights carrying 61kg is the Mick Price-trained Lankan Rupee.
The champion Redoute’s Choice seven-year-old gets the inside run from barrier one first-up on Saturday with Craig Newitt returning to the saddle of the $4 million earner.
Lankan Rupee has a gun Caulfield track record (8-4-0-2) and is a flyer over 1000m (8-5-2-1) giving him some imposing stats ahead of the weekend.
The veteran is a five-time Group 1 winner, but hasn’t raced since October last year.
Saturday then marks his much-awaited return and the bookies currently have Lankan Rupee rated an $8 hope to return to winning form off the lengthy break.
A further three runners are under $10 in an open Caulfield Sprint betting market this season including Our Boy Malachi ($5.50) drawn wide with the outside alley (11).
Prepared by Team Hawkes, the Top Echelon eight-year-old is yet to race at Caulfield but from four starts over the Caulfield Sprint distance he boasts three wins and a second.
He races second-up this campaign and also has an outstanding record two runs in (7-4-0-1) as he looks to go one better than his first-up second to Takedown in Sydney’s Group 2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) on October 1.
Our Boy Malachi was beaten a nostril-flare in that run carrying 58.5kg and will appreciate coming down to 57kg this weekend with Dwayne Dunn to ride.
Drawn one on his inside in barrier 10 is the Lindsay Park-trained Faatinah who won the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) down the Flemington straight first-up.
The Nicconi four-year-old then finished sixth to The Quarterback at the same track / distance on Turnbull Stakes Day in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes.
He pays $8.50 this weekend to atone for that loss and return to winning form in his first Caulfield run.
Rounding out the single-figure fancies at a shorter $6 is Wild Rain drawn a treat in barrier three with Stephen Baster retaining the ride on Mark Kavanagh’s classy Manhattan Rain mare.
The five-year-old won the Group 3 Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m) here in mid-July and took out the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley first-up on September 3.
Her latest run on September 30 was also at the Valley in tough company where she ran a brave third only 1.35 lengths off the three-year-old winner Extreme Choice in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m).
Check out the full Caulfield Sprint 2016 field, barriers, jockeys, weights and latest Fixed Win odds provided by Ladbrokes.com.au in the table below.