Trainer Mick Price has been happy with the 2014 Darley Classic lead-up form of Lankan Rupee and he has no excuses for the talented sprinter heading into the $1 million race at Flemington tomorrow.
Lankan Rupee suffered upset defeats in both the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on September 6 and the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1200m) at the same venue on September 26 before he returned to winning form with a tough win in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes on October 24.
There was a question mark over the fitness of Lankan Rupee heading into the Manikato Stakes due to a hoof problem, but Price told Racing Ahead that there are no such issues heading into the Darley Classic and he could not be happier with the four-time Group 1 winner; with the leading trainer also thrilled to give the Redoute’s Choice gelding another opportunity down the famous Flemington straight.
“I think that he is really good,” Price said.
“I’ve taken a bit of a line that Moonee Valley was quiet a tough run and we stuck a couple of solid gallops into him leading into that race because he was 28 days between runs.
“I think that he has bounced back really well and he had a gallop at Sandown and he had a gallop here on Tuesday and Chad (Schofield) rode him.
“He is bright and bouncy and I couldn’t be happier with him.
“It is a pretty tough race, but Moonee Valley is frustrating for that horse.
“I think Craig (Newitt) nailed it when he said that Buffering is a really good Moonee Valley horse and we are not such a good Moonee Valley horse.
“Down the straight his Newmarket win was really good and there is doubt he is a better horse on the bigger track and that is what he gets tomorrow.
“I have no excuses for the horse, he has had three runs and he has been pretty much cherry ripe every time that we have produced him and he just got beaten twice by small margins and then he won a really good race.”
The 2014 Darley Classic field is packed full of Group 1 winners, but it is Team Hawkes-trained Chautauqua that Price rates as the bigger danger to his star galloper this weekend.
Chautauqua will be making his debut at Group 1 level after he recording dominant wins down the Flemington straight in both the Group 3 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) and Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) and Price said that the sectionals times of the Encosta De Lago gelding compared favorably to those recorded by Lankan Rupee in his Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) win.
“I looked at Chautauqua’s time when he has been winning and his sectionals against the Newmarket sectionals and it wasn’t what I wanted to see,” Price said.
“It is difficult to compare times from a Newmarket six months ago to what Chautauqua has been doing in lesser grade, but the thing about weight-for-age races is that it sorts them out because it is a level playing field.
“I certainly have a lot of respect for Chautauqua and a lot of others in the race.
“Cross fingers he wins and I will be a very happy man if that is the case.”
Lankan Rupee has remained steady at 2014 Darley Classic odds of $5 throughout the week, while Chautauqua remains a clear favourite at a quote of $2.30.