Leading jockey Craig Newitt will ride Lankan Rupee in the 2014 T.J. Smith Stakes at Royal Randwick on April 12 after connections decided against running classy mare Samaready in the Group 1 event.
Newitt was set to continue his partnership with Samaready in the T.J. Smith Stakes, but owners Vinery Stud made the decision to send the daughter of More Than Ready to Adelaide for a tilt at both the Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m) and the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m).
Lankan Rupee was ridden by Chad Schofield when he stamped himself as the best sprinter in Australia with a dominant two and a half lengths win in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 8, but the owners of the Redoute’s Choice gelding have elected to give Newitt the chance to reunite with the four-year-old.
“This is no reflection on Chad Schofield,” trainer Mick Price told TVN this morning.
“The question was put to the owner and he said because of Craig’s connection with them over the years and the fact that he had ridden the horse in all starts except the Newmarket, they thought he deserved the TJ Smith ride.”
Newitt rode Lankan Rupee in all four of his starts as a three-year-olds, highlighted by a third place finish behind Snitzerland in the Blue Sapphire (1200m), while Michael Walker, Dale Smith and Damien Thornton all rode the two-time Group 1 winner during his autumn campaign last year.
Lankan Rupee won a heat of the 55 Second Challenge at Moonee Valley with Patrick Mooney on his back during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, but Newitt steered him to victory in both the Listed Earl Grey Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day and the Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on November 16.
He started his autumn preparation with a dominant four lengths win in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield on February 8 before giving Newitt his second career win in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at the same venue on February 22.
Newitt will be chasing his maiden win in the T.J. Smith Stakes after finishing third on Snitzel in the 2006 edition of the race.
Lankan Rupee ($3.60) is currently a clear favourite in 2014 T.J. Smith betting markets from Buffering ($6.50), Zoustar ($7) and Snitzerland ($10).