Form expert Daniel O’Sullivan has Lankan Rupee on top of his 2015 Newmarket Handicap tips and he believes that the talented sprinter is the horse to beat in the Group 1 event at Flemington on Saturday.
Lankan Rupee was unable to perform at his peak during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, but he returned to the racing with an explosive victory in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m), which was as impressive as his three Group 1 wins in the autumn last year.
O’Sullivan does not believe that there is a great deal between the leading chances in the Newmarket Handicap, but he told RSN that he is leaning to Lankan Rupee on the back of his Black Caviar Lightning Stakes performance.
“This is like the 100 metre final at the Olympics, there is so much anticipation here,” O’Sullivan said.
“I am leaning towards Lankan Rupee purely because he has the recent run and figures on the board.
“He was dynamic in the Lightning and the figures measured right up to about a length off his absolute peak on my numbers.
“With that score on the board I do lean towards him.”
While Lankan Rupee is O’Sullivan’s selection in the Newmarket Handicap, he also has a very high opinion of Chautauqua and he believes that the Encosta De Lago gelding is the main danger in the Group 1 event this weekend.
However, O’Sullivan was not particularly impressed with the first-up performance of Chautauqua in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on March 7 and he feels that the four-year-old would need to improve significantly on that performance to win the $1 million race.
“Chautauqua certainly has the ability to topple Lankan Rupee and his first-up run was good, but the figures weren’t quiet there,” O’Sullivan said.
“I am not one for speculating on horses improving too much and I prefer to look at that is exposed on the track.”
Terravista has been a forgotten horse of sorts heading into the Newmarket Handicap and history is against the Darley Classic winner as no horse since Polycrates in 1917 has won the Newmarket Handicap first-up.
O’Sullivan does not believe that the Newmarket Handicap first-up statistic is relevant for Terravista, but he admits that it would take a massive performance from the son of Captain Rio to record a second straight win at Group 1 level.
“In terms of Terravista I really struggled about what to do with him,” O’Sullivan said.
“I don’t put any weight into the fact that being first-up is an inhibitor in this race, but what I do put a bit of weight into is being first-up against the two horses he is competing against is a massive challenge.
“He did beat them last preparation, but that rating was a bit of spike and you have to be a little cautious.
“The other two have had the run and they are all so closely matched that having the benefit of that run is something that could bare that significance there.
“If he can pull this off then it is going to be an enormous training performance from Joe Pride, but I prefer the other two.”
Chautauqua is currently available at 2015 Newmarket Handicap odds of $3 with Ladbrokes and is a narrow favourite from Lankan Rupee ($3.20), Brazen Beau ($4.80) and Terravista ($6).