Next month’s Caulfield Sprint could mark the much-awaited return of Mick Price’s five-time winning sprint star Lankan Rupee.
A winner of over $4 million in prize money to date, Redoute’s Choice gelding Lankan Rupee hasn’t been seen since his third to Alpha Miss in last October’s Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1100m) as the beaten odds-on ($1.40) favourite.
Post-loss the now seven-year-old champion was found to be suffering from a hock injury, bone necrosis ruling him out of an autumn campaign last season.
Price is thrilled with the veteran’s recent progress and believes Lankan Rupee is nearly ready to return to the track.
He has tentatively scheduled a first-up run at Caulfield Racecourse on October 15, Caulfield Cup Day, in the $200,000 Group 2 Dilmah Single Origin Teas Caulfield Sprint (1000m).
All going well and Price hopes to have Lankan Rupee peaking second-up for a shot at the $1 million Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) on the new-look Emirates Stakes Day at Flemington Racecourse on November 5 during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
“That [the Caulfield Sprint] works out well as it’s three weeks into the Darley Classic at Flemington, which is his target race,” Price told the Herald Sun this week.
Lankan Rupee contested the 2014 Darley Classic on the back of a win in Moonee Valley’s Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) that spring, finishing under a length away third to Terravista.
He has posted one win since taking out last February’s Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington, his fifth elite level success and 11th overall victory.
Last year’s Caulfield Sprint winner Lumosty tied for first with Éclair Choice, the race’s second dead heat in as many years following that of Miracles Of Life and Bel Sprinter in 2014.
The last Darley Classic winner to back straight up off a run in the Caulfield Sprint meanwhile was the Brian Mayfield-Smith-trained Rubitano (2002) who completed the double.
Mayfield-Smith also won the previous year’s VRC Classic with Sudurka (2001) who scored the upset at 20/1 after finished 18th in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap the run before.
This year the 2016 Darley Classic nominations close on September 20 at midday (local time).
Also bound for a Group 1 Flemington sprint over 1200m down the straight for Price this season is Flying Artie.
The three-year-old son of Artie Schiller was runner-up to stablemate Extreme Choice in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) in February before a third to Capitalist in the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) last start on March 19.
He too has made terrific recent progress and is likely to kick off his spring bid on October 8, Caulfield Guineas Day, in the lucrative $400,000 Group 2 Mitsubishi Electric Schillaci Stakes (1100m).