Leading sprinter Lankan Rupee finished second behind Hazard in the opening barrier trial over 800 metres at Cranbourne this morning.
Lankan Rupee was making his first public appearance since his stellar autumn campaign and he was given a very quiet time by regular jockey Craig Newitt.
The triple Group 1 winner jumped straight to the lead in the early stages and was kept under a very heavy hold by Newitt before he was passed in the final stages of the trial by Anthony Freedman-trained Hazard.
Lankan Rupee is set to return to the races in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on September 6 before returning to Group 1 level for the Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 26, the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at the same venue on October 24 and the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 8.
A trip to Hong Kong for the Group 1 Hong Kong International Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin is also on the agenda for Lankan Rupee, depending on how he performs during his spring preparation.
Hazard worked home strongly in the final stages of the barrier trial and she looks on track to return to the races for the first time since her autumn preparation.
The Flying Spur mare started her autumn campaign with a strong third behind stablemate Knoydart in the Listed Hareeba Stakes (1200m) at Mornington on February 12 before finishing second behind Bonaria in the Group 3 Mannerism Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 22.
Hazard returned to winning form with a narrow win in the Catanach’s Gold Bracelet (1400m) at Bendigo on March 15 and was sent to the spelling paddock after finishing third behind May’s Dream and Double Dee in the Pantry Packer Handicap (1523m) at Moonee Valley on March 29.
Akavoroun finished third behind Hazard and Lankan Rupee and impressed trainer Ciaron Maher with his effort.
The Lacryma Cristi gelding has recorded six wins from seven race starts to date and finished his autumn preparation with a fast-finishing win over The Cleaner and Gig in the Listed VRC-CRV Winter Championships Final (1600m) at Flemington on July 12.
Akavoroun is set to return to racing in the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) at Flemington on September 13 and is set to be given a chance at Group 1 level in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 28 and the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on October 11.