What a year! Lane does it again in Japan
Damian Lane's status as a bona fide global star is beyond dispute after producing the ride of his career to send Lys Gracieux into triumphant retirement, while franking the Cox Plate's soaring international relevance.
Two months after Lane and Lys Gracieux combined to land the Cox Plate, the quietly spoken Australian and Yoshito Yahagi's stud-bound mare upstaged the cream of Japan's greatest gallopers in the Arima Kinen.
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Lane, 25, crowned an already glorious season by out-pointing his 15 rivals in the $7.8 million Arima Kinen (2500m) - the world's biggest betting race - at Nakayama with a ride of chilling precision and timing.
Odds-on favourite Almond Eye finished ninth after travelling three-wide for virtually the entire race.
Victory marked Lane's fifth major success in a phenomenal year.
He has prevailed in the Golden Slipper (Kiamchi). Caulfield Cup (Mer De Glace), Cox Plate, Arima Kinen and the Takarazuka Kinen (all on Lys Gracieux).
Lane was granted a one-day licence to ride at Nakayama, where an estimated 90,000 spectators packed the racecourse to witness the fan-based contest.
Victoria's All-Star Mile is modelled on the Arima Kinen with fans voting for their favourite horse to earn a start.
Pitted against Ryan Moore, Christophe Soumillon and Oisin Murphy, Lane delivered the perfect ride on Lys Gracieux, saving valuable ground on the fence before working to the outside after straightening for home.
Once clear, Lys Gracieux swept five lengths clear, defeating Saturnalia and World Premiere.
The winner's purse was worth almost $4 million to connections, adding to the $3 million Lys Gracieux earned for Cox Plate victory as one of the Moonee Valley Racing Club's international invitees.
For Lane, whose career has exploded after a two-month stint in Japan mid-year, the world is now his oyster after a sublime ride.
Having produced Group 1 wins for global racing giant Godolphin, he is already hugely respected in Japan.
If not for a chequered run in the Melbourne Cup, when he finished sixth on Me De Glace, Lane might have claimed all four Australian majors - Golden Slipper, Melbourne and Caulfield Cups and the Cox Plate - in the same year.
Only seven jockeys have collected all four across their careers.
How good was that .... Gem of a ride by Damian Lane on Lys Glacieux never left fence until neared home turn. What a double Cox Plate and Ariana Kinen!!— Dale Monteith (@dgmonty16) December 22, 2019
HAYES' MM AMBITIONS SCUTTLED
Lindsay Park is unlikely to have a Magic Millions runner after one of its most exciting young talents succumbed to shin soreness.
David Hayes has been forced to abandon Gold Coast plans with Exceed Tycoon, who won a Flemington jumpout on Friday morning.
"He's pulled up shin sore," Hayes said. "He won't be going up to Queensland now.
"We'll give him a break and get him ready for the Blue Diamond (at Caulfield in February)."
The Exceed And Excel colt was poised to run during the spring carnival but showed signs of immaturity.
"He's a promising horse, he's always shown a lot of class in his training," Hayes said.
"In training he showed similar ability to the two-year-olds that won at Flemington over Cup Week, but he went shin sore."
Hayes had planned to take Exceed Tycoon to Sydney with an aim to win enough prizemoney to earn a Magic Millions start on January 11.
The Valley on Saturday had also been an option.
Hayes is likely to target the Blue Diamond with Melbourne Cup carnival winner Hard Landing.
"He's the top qualifier at the Magic Millions, but I think he'll be better suited heading to the Blue Diamond." he said.
"I think Exceed Tycoon and maybe a couple of others might head to the Blue Diamond as well."
Hard Landing downed stablemate Baaqyah to win the Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate (1000m) in November.
The pair is likely to resume in the Blue Diamond prelude and preview races at Caulfield in January.