Mick Price has confirmed that Lankan Rupee will return to the races in the 2015 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington on February 21 and the leading trainer is very happy with the condition of the four-time Group 1 winner heading into his autumn campaign.
Lankan Rupee was sent to the spelling paddock after he finished third behind Terravista and Chautauqua in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on November 8 and Price told Racing Ahead that the Redoute’s Choice gelding has return from his break in excellent condition.
Price believes that Lankan Rupee is back to the form that he showed when he recorded three Group 1 wins last autumn, but admits that the five-year-old will still face a tough challenge when he takes on the likes of Chautauqua, Terravista and Deep Field in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m), Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) this preparation.
“He is very well,” Price said.
“The horse is very fit, fresh and well in himself.
“He has plenty of great condition on him and his feet are great.
“Not that I am making any excuses for him last time, but his quarter crack has grown down and he has a normal pair of shoes on.
“It would be difficult for me to say that the horse has physically improved to the point that he has an advantage on Chautauqua, Deep Field or Terravista, but he is obviously one of them.
“He needs things run the right way.
“Buffering won’t be there this season coming up and it might just take a bit of that early pressure out and not make it so advantageous for those really good sprinters to sit off him.
“He will run in the Lightning, the Newmarket and TJ and we will work it out after that.”
Craig Newitt has been the regular jockey on Lankan Rupee throughout his racing career and steered the talented sprinter to victory in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m), TJ Smith Stakes and Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m).
Newitt is currently riding in Singapore on a six month contract, but Price revealed that the talented hoop has secured permission from the Singapore Turf Club to return to Australia to ride Lankan Rupee during his autumn campaign.
“The deal at this point from my understanding is that Craig has permission from the Singapore Turf Club to come back and ride him,” Price said.
“Craig is obviously fit and has his eye in anyway and that was the arrangement when he went there and I believe that is still the case.
“I think that Craig will be the man.”
Lankan Rupee has the chance to deliver Price his maiden win in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, while he will become only the fifth horse in history to win the Newmarket Handicap in back-to-back years if he is successful in the Group 1 event.