After a pleasing gallop on the course proper at Moonee Valley on Monday morning, connections of the world’s highest rated sprinter Lankan Rupee are confident he can atone for a first-up loss this weekend in the $450,000 Group 1 City Jeep A.J. Moir Stakes (1200m).
There were 10 sprinters nominated for the Moir Stakes today with Racing Victoria extending nominations for the Moonee Valley classic, running under the lights on Friday night, until 10:00am on Tuesday morning.
Of the current entries it is the Mick Price-trained Lankan Rupee leading the way, the three-time Group 1 champion second-up for the season.
Last time out the five-year-old son of Redoute’s Choice proved vulnerable when beaten in the final stride by an outside chance in the Group 2 Mitty’s McEwen Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on September 6.
Craig Newitt was aboard the Oakleigh Plate – Newmarket Handicap – TJ Smith Stakes triple winner for the run and said afterwards he wouldn’t have changed tactics to go to the front from the outside gate.
Newitt is confident though that the horse won’t be beaten again this weekend with Lankan Rupee fitter for his resuming effort and better suited to the 1200m than the 1000m.
His confidence grew then this morning with Lankan Rupee working well to run away from stable mate Lion Of Belfort at Moonee Valley, completing the final 400m in a smart 23.2 seconds.
“His coat was blooming,” Newitt told The Sydney Morning Herald post-gallop.
“It’s the first time he had galloped smoothly the whole way.
“He usually gets on his Sydney leg. Even at his last start he got on his Sydney leg coming on to the course proper.”
Also impressed and bullish over their chances on Friday evening was Price who said there are no excuses, fitness or otherwise, for the Moir.
“I’d be pretty confident he comes here on Friday night does his best and wins,” he said.
“There will be no excuses for him. He’s improved a lot and will be hard to beat.”
While Lankan Rupee’s last start conqueror Angelic Light also features in this year’s Moir Stakes nominations, it is last year’s runner-up Buffering who presents the biggest danger.
Rob Heathcote’s Queensland raider is also a triple Group 1 champion, the son of Mossman having finally broken through at elite level last season at his 18th Group 1 start in the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley.
That was second-up on the back of a second to Samaready in last year’s Moir Stakes, a race Buffering won in 2012 when it only held Group 2 status.
The now seven-year-old gelding kicks things off again this weekend then having his first run since a third behind the ‘Boom Brothers’ Spirit Of Boom (1st) and Temple Of Boom (2nd) in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) in Brisbane back on May 24.
Heathcote made the decision after that run not to press ahead with a Stradbroke Handicap campaign based on the weight his galloper was allocated and is happy he’s given Buffering extra time to prepare for the spring.
Other notable chances in the Moir Stakes then include Gary Portelli’s former Group 1 winning California Dane stallion Rebel Dane, his last start conqueror and Group 2 Missile Stakes winner Sweet Idea for Gai Waterhouse, and the Joe Pride-trained Tiger Tees coming off a second to Lucia Valentina in the Group 2 Tramwya Stakes (1400m) from a fortnight ago in Sydney.
Final acceptances for the Moir Stakes and other Moonee Valley races at the meeting close on Wednesday morning.