Comeback sprinter Lankan Rupee will need plenty of luck when he resumes in the Group 3 $150,000 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) at Sandown on Sunday after drawing barrier nine in the twelve horse field.
Jockey Craig Newitt was hoping to give Lankan Rupee a soft run from an inside barrier to help him with his fitness first up but now the eight year old will have to do it tough from the awkward gate.
“If he gets a good gate and a pretty good run I think he’ll be a really good chance, if not his fitness may give out,” Newitt said on RSN927 before the barrier draw.
“But I think the track will suit him.
“The track we’re on tends to suit horses on the speed and you would think he won’t be too far away.”
Trainer Mick Price took Lankan Rupee to Sandown on Wednesday morning to gallop with stablemate and Bletchingly Stakes rival Duke Of Brunswick and while Newitt said that the giant gelding showed his usual turn of foot to match it with his galloping partner, he had had enough on the line.
“When we got around the 400-metre mark I picked him up pretty quick,” Newitt said.
“I was surprised how the old boy quickened down. On the line the other horse had the measure of me, but I reckon it was fitness that gave way in my bloke.”
While Lankan Rupee got a feel for the Sandown track, he was unable to familiarize himself with the surroundings as a heavy fog covered the course.
“Visibility was pretty ordinary. I sat four or five lengths off the horse in front of me and that was pretty much all I could see for the whole gallop,” Newitt said.
Lankan Rupee was rated among the best sprinters in the world when he strung three Group 1 wins together during the 2014 Autumn Carnival in the $400,000 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield, the $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington and the $2.5m Darley T J Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick.
The 2014 Group 1 $1m Manikato Stakes (1200m) at The Valley was added to Lankan Rupee’s list of Group 1 wins but the seven year old has been battling a string of injuries and hasn’t visited the winner’s stall since taking Group 1 $500,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington during the 2015 Melbourne Autumn Carnival
Lankan Rupee hasn’t raced since running fourth to Malaguerra in the Group 1 $1m Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on the last day of the 2016 Melbourne Cup Carnival and is on the comeback trail following an operation to repair some damage to his hock.
Duke Of Brunswick has drawn slightly better than Lankan Rupee at barrier seven with Damien Oliver sticking with the six year old after the pair combined for a first second to Ability in the Listed $150,000 All Victorian Sprint Series Final (1200m) at Flemington on July 8.
The Robert Smerton trained Ability is chasing his fourth win on the trot and has drawn nicely at barrier four with Dwayne Dunn in the saddle again.
The Lindsay Park Team of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig have two runners in the Bletchngly Stakes, Keen Array from the inside gate with Regan Bayliss and Tashbeeh from barrier five for Cory Parish.
Santa Ana Lane with Mark Zahra booked to ride and Murt The Flirt with Chris Symons have drawn the two outside barriers at eleven and twelve.
The Bletchingly Stakes was rescheduled for the Ladbrokes Park Lakeside meeting at Sandown on Sunday after originally being set down to be run at Caulfield last Saturday before that meeting was called off after race four because of the gale force winds sweeping across the track.
Final field for 2017 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m)
|#||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||x169x3x34x||LANKAN RUPEE||Mick Price||Craig Newitt||9||58.5kg||115|
|2||0x00x415x6||LORD OF THE SKY||Robbie Laing||–||6||58.5kg||104|
|3||83x211478x||KEEN ARRAY||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Regan Bayliss||1||58.5kg||104|
|4||112x0x89x4||DIVINE TEN||Kelvin Bourke||Harry Coffey||10||58.5kg||89|
|5||089x60229x||CHARMED HARMONY||John Sadler||Ms Katelyn Mallyon||8||58.5kg||100|
|6||x344943x19||TASHBEEH||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Cory Parish||5||58.5kg||101|
|7||24x43139x2||DUKE OF BRUNSWICK||Mick Price||Damien Oliver||7||58.5kg||94|
|8||x3189348x3||MURT THE FLIRT||Brendan McCarthy||Chris Symons||12||58.5kg||88|
|9||111121612x||CHOCOLATE HOLIC||Darren Weir||Damian Lane||3||58.5kg||97|
|10||3047×49155||SANTA ANA LANE||Lee & Anthony Freedman||Mark Zahra||11||58.5kg||96|
|11||7x4136x111||ABILITY||Robert Smerdon||Dwayne Dunn||4||58.5kg||94|
|12||1x17731x1x||SAVANNA AMOUR||John Meagher||Ben Melham||2||56.5kg||92|