Changed man

‘Dif­fer­ent’ Ru­pee to re­turn in Bletch­ingly

The Sportsman Weekend - - News - By RAY HICKSON

CRAIG Ne­witt can’t help but won­der what might have been had for­mer cham­pion sprinter Lankan Ru­pee not suc­cumbed to ca­reer threat­en­ing in­juries twice in the last two years.

Come­back num­ber three be­gins for the ris­ing eight-year-old in Group 3 $150,000 Bletch­ingly Stakes ( 1200m) at Caulfield to­mor­row and Ne­witt said a lot of ques­tions will be an­swered.

Lankan Ru­pee, 2013-14 Horse Of The Year, hasn’t raced since a gal­lant fourth in the Group 1 Dar­ley Clas­sic last spring and has pleased his reg­u­lar rider in two jump outs.

But, he warns, we’re not deal­ing with the same old Lankan Ru­pee.

“He al­ways tri­als up pretty well, he hasn’t been placed un­der se­vere race pres­sure so we will find out,” he said.

“He’s not as sharp as he used to be. Even in 700m jump outs, when

was fly­ing, he’d go straight to the front and they wouldn’t see where he went.

“Since he’s had a long lay­off he seems to have lost a lit­tle bit of bril­liance that had.

“He’s been beaten

I’ve been very for­tu­nate to get on a num­ber of good sprint­ers and he’s right up there. – Craig Ne­witt

in both his jump outs by the same horse but

main thing was his ac­tion felt good and he seems bright in him­self.”

Ne­witt has been the reg­u­lar rider of a num­ber of high class sprint­ers over the years, in­clud­ing Miss An­dretti, Sa­maready and last year’s Blue Di­a­mond win­ner Ex­treme Choice.

But he con­cedes we’ll never know what Lankan Ru­pee could have achieved had he been in­jury free since his dom­i­nant TJ Smith Stakes win in 2014.

“I’ve been very for­tu­nate to get on a num­ber of good sprint­ers and he’s right up there,” he said.

“I think his pain thresh­hold very high be­cause he’s broke down both times dur­ing the race but doesn’t feel sore.

“In the Dar­ley Clas­sic last year he was beaten a length and a bit but just didn’t seem to be at his best it wasn’t un­til he cooled down they strug­gled to get him off the float at the sta­bles.”

As for his re­turn in the Bletch­ingly, Ne­witt said there’s plenty of im­prove­ment to come and would love see him out to 1400m this time in.

“I don’t think that he’s look­ing for fur­ther, but to match it with the elite sprint­ers you have to be bril­liant,” he said.

“I think with the tempo of a seven fur­long race they won’t run same sec­tion­als as they would in a sprint.

“I’m think­ing he will run well, if can win beau­ti­ful, but so long as he pulls up well.”

Ne­witt had some in­ter­est­ing com­ments to make about re­ju­ve­nated stayer Benall who tack­les the Sheen Group Hand­i­cap (2400m) at his first run since May 26.

The five-year-old had a rat­ing of 50 when Ne­witt rode him to a sur­prise win at Morn­ing­ton in April and was run­nerup in a Bench­mark 78 at his lat­est at­tempt.

Ne­witt isn’t con­cerned about go­ing in fresh and won’t be chang­ing a suc­cess­ful for­mula.

“He’s a funny horse, be­fore I got on him his form was ab­so­lutely woe­ful,” he said.

“He’d been go­ing around and get­ting flogged in bench­mark 58s. I rode him one day at Morn­ing­ton and they were go­ing slow so I took off on him he kept go­ing.

“He sits out the back and waits for them to have a breather and as soon as they do he gets go­ing.”

Lankan Ru­pee stretches out in his Caulfield jumpout

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