Short Of A Bob

Lankan Rupee downed in Ian McEwen Stakes

Rated the world’s best sprinter, Lankan Rupee made his highly anticipated return as a well-backed $1.22 favourite in the Ian McEwen Stakes over 1000m at Moonee Valley on Saturday, 6 September.

Lankan Rupee, who has had 6 career starts for 5 wins (three of which were at Gr1 level), was expected to make short work of the Ian McEwen field, but all did not go according to plan. Ridden by Ryan Maloney, Robbie Griffiths-trained filly Angelic Light tracked the speed with Lankan Rupee sitting outside the leader Eloping. When Lankan Rupee passed Eloping early in the straight it seemed all was going to script but Angelic Light produced the run of her career to score by a short head in a thrilling finish. Eloping finished 2-1/4 lengths third.

Jockey Craig Newitt, who predicted that Lankan Rupee would not be beaten this spring, said lack of racing cost his mount. “That will blow the cobwebs out,” he said. “If he had to get beaten, I’m glad it was today. But it still sucks.” Newitt said he wanted to take a sit off Eloping but she didn’t go as quickly as he thought and Lankan Rupee raced fresh on her outside. “The winner has had a run under her belt and sat on our back and nabbed us the last couple of strides. He had a really good blow. I know he’s going to improve. And he’ll be back here in three weeks.”

Lankan Rupee’s trainer, Mick Price, was philosophical. “I’m happy enough with the horse, but when they are $1.25 you’d like to see them win,” he said. “They were going hard in front and the winner is race fit and got into the slipstream. Sometimes they get beat.” Price has 20 days to get Lankan Rupee fit for the Gr1 Moir Stakes over 1200m at Mooney Valley and plans to contest four Gr1’s this campaign remain unchanged.

Winner Angelic Light cost just $30,000 at the Melbourne premier sale. The Holy Roman Emperor five-year-old is trained by Robbie Griffiths and has banked $442,500 from five wins in 13 starts.

Angelic Light’s win for a large team of enthusiastic owners was typical of Griffiths’ practical approach. “Owners like these are the backbone of our stable,” he said. “I went to school at Devon Meadows with some of the owners.” The filly was Gr1 placed in April 2013, but suffered a tendon sprain in the build up to last year’s spring carnival. “The owners had the big decision to race on or go to stud,” said Griffiths. “I’ve got to thank them for their patience.”

Angelic Light thrilled connections by finishing 3rd in her first run after a break in the Carlyon Stakes, but Griffiths admitted beating Lankan Rupee had come as a shock. “You’d have to be silly to say you could beat the world’s best sprinter. We were expecting to run third and hoping for second. To beat the world’s best sprinter is very exciting. We don’t have a big owner base to compete at the yearling sales, so we give them a budget and buy the best we can,” Griffiths said. “Days like this sell the dreams.”

Angelic Light will square up to Lankan Rupee again in the Gr1 Moir Stakes over 1200m at Moonee Valley in 3 weeks’ time.

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