A bullish Mick Price believes Lankan Rupee is going every bit as well as when he was a force in Australia’s best Group One sprints.
The former Australian Racehorse of the Year makes his return to Group One racing for the first time in 19 months on Saturday at Flemington and Price says the gelding is “flying”.
A hock issue and a long rehabilitation program had Lankan Rupee off the scene for 12 months from last spring before the seven-year-old made his race comeback with a pleasing third in the Group Two Caulfield Sprint (1000m) carrying 61kg last month.
Saturday’s Darley Classic at Flemington will be his first Group One start since finishing down the track in the TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick in April last year.
Lankan Rupee has won five Group One races, including the 2015 Lightning Stakes and 2014 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington, and Price believes the gelding is back going every bit as well.
“He’s going great,’ Price said.
“I’m really happy with the horse. I think he’s his old vibrant self and the only thing that may compromise him is that tough, hard race fitness. But it is only 1200 metres.
“They’ll go down the straight, they’ll sit up and sprint and it will be a nice race for him and no shock to see him win.”
Price said Lankan Rupee was then scheduled to fly to Perth on Sunday week in preparation for the $1 million Winterbottom Stakes on November 26.
The Caulfield trainer can’t fault Lankan Rupee s preparation.
“He was eased back in,” he said.
“I think it was a nice plan to have the three weeks (from the Caulfield Sprint to the Darley Classic), so I’ve got no complaints.
“He’s good enough. I just need to know that he’s fit enough. I think he’s fit enough.”
Lankan Rupee, to be ridden by his regular jockey Craig Newitt, is third favourite at $6.50 with Our Boy Malachi heading the market at $4.60 from The Quarterback at $5.50.
Like Lankan Rupee, The Quarterback is a Newmarket Handicap winner over the straight 1200m at Flemington having defeated Black Heart Bart and Chautauqua in March.