Exciting finish: Lankan Rupee (right) just holds off rivals in a classic end to the Manikato Stakes on Friday night. Photo: Vince Caligiuri/Getty ImagesMick Price has warned Lankan Rupee will only improve following his Manikato Stakes win on Friday night.
But several of the vanquished runners were left licking their wounds. Lankan Rupee was ridden aggressively with the intent to lead from a wide gate and had to survive protests from the minor placegetters, Angelic Light and Famous Seamus, in a remarkable group 1 where the field of 12 finished within 2-1/2 lengths of each other.
Angelic Light and Famous Seamus clipped heels and almost fell in the first 200 metres, losing several lengths and their position, as pressure came from the outside via Temple Of Boom and Lankan Rupee.
The protest took more than 45 minutes to be dismissed and it delayed the last race of the night by 20 minutes. Stewards found that interference “could not fully be attributed to the shift by Lankan Rupee”.
However, they severely reprimanded winning rider Craig Newitt and Temple Of Boom’s Tegan Harrison “for failing to exercise sufficient care near the 1100 metres by allowing their mounts to shift in, causing severe interference”.
On Saturday Price was delighted with the way Lankan Rupee came though the win.
“He was there for them all to beat and he will really come on from that,” he said. “He went home and ate up. I haven’t been able to do much with him in the past couple of weeks because of the hoof and he is much better horse when he gets to Flemington.”
The early carnage had several trainers go home feeling they had hard-luck stories. Runner-up Angelic Light’s trainer Robbie Griffiths said he would monitor his mare before making a decision about the Darley Classic on the final day of the Flemington carnival on November 8.
“She has a bit of bark [skin] off her and knows she had a run,” Griffiths said. “She lost those couple of lengths in the incident and did a great job.
“It was a race where a lot of people would think they should have won, not Lankan Rupee. We’re one of them and I think we should have got the protest as well.”
Terravista, which ran fifth and was caught in the middle of the incident at the 1100m, is unlikely to return to Melbourne.
“He was fantastic because he likes his racing room and didn’t get that,” trainer Joe Pride said. “He really didn’t handle the trip [to Melbourne] that well. I don’t really want to back-up him up that quickly, and he is going to win his group-1 races.”
Buffering was left battle scarred, trainer Robert Heathcote saying he had “bark off him everywhere and a lumber problem, it was a war”.
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