The Bletchingly Stakes looms as the likely comeback race for multiple Group One-winner Lankan Rupee.
The world’s former top-ranked sprinter has been off the scene recovering from a leg injury since finishing fourth in the Group One Darley Classic in the spring which was his second race back from another lengthy lay-off.
Lankan Rupee ramped up preparations for his return by running third in a 700m jump-out on the inside grass at Caulfield on Tuesday.
His regular jockey Craig Newitt was aboard and told trainer Mick Price he was happy with the gelding’s action.
Price is looking to kick off Lankan Rupee’s campaign in the Group Three Bletchingly (1200m) at Caulfield on July 29.
“I was happy,” Price said.
“It was a fast trial and the inside grass is a bit of a skatey track, which is what Craig Newitt said.
“Craig knows the horse well and the main thing is if he’s happy to hit out.
“We’ve nursed him along gallop to gallop and this was his first trial in a long time.
“I’m not saying he’s fit enough to win the Bletchingly, but I just needed to know that he was happy to hit out in his trials. And according to Craig, he was happy with that part of it.”
Price is looking to give Lankan Rupee another jump-out next week to keep building his fitness ahead of the Bletchingly.
The trainer is keeping an open mind about spring options which include the $10 million Everest if he is in form and there is interest from a slot holder.
“He’ll probably line up on the 29th of July, without having a winning expectation, and we’ll take it from there,” Price said.
“He needs to be fitter and more tuned up. He’s been in work a while but we’ve been slowly but surely bringing him back.
“I suppose race day tells all, but at this stage I’m happy enough with him.”
A rising eight-year-old, Lankan Rupee won three Group One sprints, including the TJ Smith at Randwick, during a memorable 2014 autumn campaign which had him rated the world’s best sprinter.
That title now belongs to Chautauqua who has won the TJ Smith for the past three years and is the favourite for The Everest on October 14.
Lankan Rupee also won the 2014 Manikato Stakes and 2015 Lightning Stakes but has been restricted to three starts in the past two years.