Lankan Rupee, the world’s highest-rated sprinter, reasserted his superiority in Australian sprinting ranks with a dramatic Sportingbet Manikato Stakes victory at Moonee Valley on Friday night.
Last season’s Australian Racehorse of the Year registered his first win of the season when he held on to defeat Angelic Light and Famous Seamus in an exhilarating edition of the feature event on the first night of the Sportingbet Cox Plate Carnival.
The victory – his fourth at Group 1 level – atoned for narrow defeats in the McEwen Stakes and Moir Stakes, both at Moonee Valley, at his first two runs back from a spell and came three weeks after he was found to be suffering from a quartercrack that placed his campaign in jeopardy.
Lankan Rupee’s trainer Mick Price could not hide his delight at the result.
“That was fantastic,” Price said. “He’s just been such a fantastic horse for us.
“He’s had a messy four weeks, he’s missed work and every time we’ve had to attend to his foot we had to give him a day off to let it bed in.
“Moonee Valley’s not his favourite course and he was there to be beaten.
“I just knew that if they run the race like that there would be a nice horse sitting off him, I wasn’t sure which one it would be.”
In the end, most of the field were closing in on the Redoute’s Choice gelding, the $3.90 favourite, at the line.
Robbie Griffiths’ Angelic Light ($13), Lankan Rupee’s McEwen Stakes conqueror, got within a half-head with Famous Seamus ($18) charging into third, just a nose further back.
Rebel Dane, Terravista, Temple of Boom, Buffering and Moment of Change all finished just behind the placegetters, within three quarters of a lengths of Lankan Rupee.
The last horse over the line in the 12-horse field, Bounding, was beaten just 2.6 lengths.
The second and third placegetters both protested against the winner, objections that were dismissed by stewards.
Newitt was full of praise for Lankan Rupee, who lifted his earnings to $3,568,010 with the 10th win of his 19-start career.
“He’s a superstar,” Newitt said. “He’s the only horse in that race that could have done that. He burnt the stick at both ends and still held them off.
“I felt they were going to run him down 50 or 100 off the line, but he’s just got tremendous courage and he lifted when I needed him to.”
Price issued an ominous warning for Lankan Rupee’s rivals who are hoping to turn the tables in the $1 million Group 1 Darley Classic at Flemington – where Lankan Rupee scored a brilliant win in the Newmarket Handicap in March – on 8 November.
“I just can’t wait until Flemington,” Price said. “That will top him right off for November the 8th.”