Star Australian jockey Damian Lane will head to Japan with a chance to put an exclamation mark on a memorable 2019 when he rides Cox Plate winner Lys Gracieux in her final start.
Lane will be reunited with Lys Gracieux in next Sunday’s Grade One Arima Kinen (2500m) at Nakayama, having ridden the Japanese mare to feature race wins in the Takarazuka Kinen and Cox Plate in her past two starts.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Lane said.
“Obviously she’s a quality mare. It’s going to be a tough race now that Almond Eye is going there, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Almond Eye had been scheduled to go to the Hong Kong Cup earlier this month but those plans were shelved when the Japanese star spiked a temperature and instead was redirected towards the Arima Kinen.
The TAB has Almond Eye at $2.50 in an all-in market for the Arima Kinen with Lys Gracieux one of two horses at $5.
Lane will travel to Japan on Wednesday and is thankful for the chance to ride Lys Gracieux again with the JRA giving him a one-day licence.
“It’s a great result because I wasn’t entitled for the licence,” he said.
“It’s a special licence they’ve granted me just because of my association with her so I was very lucky to get the opportunity.
“My expectation is that she will run well because she is such a class horse and she’s so honest, but it’s going to be a very competitive race.
“It’s probably the best race that Japan has seen all year.
“You’ve got the Japan Cup winner (Suave Richard), Almond Eye, Kiseki. Basically nearly every one of their best horses, bar say (International Vase winner) Glory Vase who went to Hong Kong, is in this race.
“So it’s going to be mighty competitive but she will run well.”
Lane has played a starring role in some of Australia’s major races in 2019, starting with his win in the Golden Slipper in Sydney in March on Godolphin-owned filly Kiamichi.
During the Melbourne spring carnival he won the $5 million Caulfield Cup on Japanese horse Mer De Glace a week before adding the $5 million Cox Plate on Lys Gracieux.
Those opportunities on the Japanese horses in Melbourne during spring came about after he spent two months riding in Japan earlier in the year when he claimed the Grade One Victoria Mile on Normcore as well as the Takarazuka Kinen on Lys Gracieux.