It wasn’t long ago that Mick Price’s biggest ambition for Lankan Rupee was to claim a short-course record at Moonee Valley and win him a car.
Now the Caulfield trainer can buy his own after Lankan Rupee added the $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes to his Oakleigh Plate and Newmarket Handicap wins.
Lankan Rupee proved why he was recently rated the best sprinter in the world with a commanding performance, leading a crack field and going on with the job to score a two length win over Rebel Dane with the evergreen Buffering third.
The horse has been beaten just once since he was gelded prior to last spring, but not even Price dreamed he could reach such heights.
“I tried to win a car at Moonee Valley one night and he got beat, so I couldn’t have thought this horse would turn into the world’s best sprinter,” Price said.
Lankan Rupee’s TJ Smith victory could have come undone if not for the input of Randwick track manager Nevesh Ramdhani.
Price revealed he originally wanted Craig Newitt to stay on the fence, a plan Ramdhani convinced him to rethink.
“I had some hair-brained scheme to suck up on the paint, but even Nevesh said to me, `I think you’ll get killed if you do and you get beat’,” Price said.
“It was not our plan to lead Buffering, but that’s what the good jockeys do.
“They make their own decisions in the Group Ones. That’s what Craig did and he had the horse underneath him.
“Craig’s come of age. The horse has come of age. It’s fantastic.”
Price rates Lankan Rupee as the best horse he has trained.
But he won’t be tempted to take him to Royal Ascot and said the gelding would be spelled.
“Unless they put up more prize money than they have in Australia I don’t see the point (in going to Ascot),” Price said.
“He has the spring in front of him and we might have him for another five or six years if he’s handled properly, so I don’t intend to go any further with him this prep.”
Gary Portelli was rapt with the effort of Rebel Dane, while Robert Heathcote was happy to hear the winner was not heading to Queensland for the winter carnival with Buffering’s next target the BTC Cup.
“The winner is the best sprinter in the world and you have to give him credit,” Heathcote said.