The most improved sprinter in Australia has now staked his claim as the country’s best with a devastating Newmarket Handicap win.
Lankan Rupee backed up his Group One Oakleigh Plate win with an even more commanding performance at Flemington on Saturday, powering clear of a high-class field under star young jockey Chad Schofield.
Trainer Mick Price had favoured stablemate Samaready ($4) as his best Newmarket chance, but the astute horseman was quick to heap praise on Schofield and Lankan Rupee ($6) after the 2-1/4 length win in the $1 million sprint.
“I’m just really pleased that in the toughest sprint in Australia he’s found sixth gear and blasted away,” Price said.
Schofield added the Newmarket to his Cox Plate win last spring on Shamus Award and in a big day for the family, his father Glyn partnered Boban to a Group One Chipping Norton Stakes win in Sydney 20 minutes later.
Price said Schofield “rides beyond his years” and didn’t tie him down to instructions.
“It was up to this young jockey’s judgment on where he put the horse. He just went with the flow and the horse kicked up and put in a career-best performance,” Price said.
Lankan Rupee raced close to the speed and Schofield held him together for as long as he could before unleashing him approaching the 200m.
He left his rivals in his wake, defeating Spirit Of Boom ($15) with Knoydart ($10) a length away third in a repeat of the Oakleigh Plate trifecta.
“As soon as I pressed the button he really dashed and I haven’t had a horse quicken like that for me before,” Schofield said.
Schofield has been riding freelance in recent weeks as he considers his future as stable rider for David Hayes.
Lankan Rupee became the 11th horse to complete the Oakleigh Plate-Newmarket Handicap double and now the $2.5 million Group One TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) in Sydney awaits for the new star of Australian sprinting who has won six of his seven starts since being gelded.
“I think all roads lead to Sydney,” Price said.
Race favourite Samaready couldn’t go with Lankan Rupee after tracking the winner and finished sixth while last year’s winner Shamexpress finished just out of the placings in fourth.