LANE BIDS SAY­ONARA TO VAN­QUISHED CUP RI­VALS

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - CAULFIELD CUP 2019 - GLENN McFARLANE

THE per­sua­sive pow­ers of star jockey Damian Lane and the might of the Ja­panese pulled off a Caulfield Cup heist yes­ter­day when north­ern raider Mer De Glace saluted in a rough-house ver­sion of the $5 mil­lion fea­ture.

Lane's big­gest Aus­tralian suc­cess came when he made a per­fectly timed run, pi­lot­ing the $8 chance to a one-length vic­tory over the fast-fin­ish­ing lo­cal Vow And De­clare ($8) with Mi­rage Dancer ($16) in third place.

The race took just over 150 se­conds to run but, in re­al­ity, the plan to win this year’s Caulfield Cup was hatched way back in June when Lane saluted on Mer De Glace in the Naruo Ki­nen in Ja­pan.

It was his sec­ond win on the horse — who has now won six in a row — and im­me­di­ately af­ter that race he set about try­ing to con­vince trainer Hisashi Shimizu to bring the horse out to Aus­tralia.

Shimizu and the horse’s owner, U. Car­rot Farm’s Dr H Akita, were con­cerned about the weight the five-year-old horse would be al­lo­cated and won­dered if the trip Down Un­der might be in the horse's best in­ter­ests.

But Lane kept push­ing. And push­ing. Even­tu­ally, they re­lented.

Yes­ter­day, the three of them — a one­time kid from Bun­bury in Western Aus­tralia, and the two Ja­panese horse lovers — united in a crowded mount­ing yard at Caulfield, as the rain eased off af­ter com­ing down in waves just prior to the race.

“I planted the seed af­ter the sec­ond time I won on him,” the 25-year-old jockey said. “Con­nec­tions were re­ally happy to come be­cause it looked like he was go­ing to get 53kg. Then he won again and it was ques­tion­able be­cause he was go­ing to go up to 55kg. There were a few mo­ments when they thought it might have been too much for him.

“But I pushed my man­ager here, Adam Har­ring­ton, who helps me with my rides and in­ter­pret­ing in Ja­pan. I just pushed him to make it hap­pen.”

“I begged them to come be­cause I knew 55kg was still a winnable weight. I’m for­ever grate­ful they brought him out here.

Lane's ex­tended stint in Ja­pan ear­lier this year paid huge div­i­dends at the time. It has now helped him land his first win in one of Vic­to­ria’s big three spring ma­jors.

Be­fore he left for Ja­pan in April, he said he wanted to travel to make him­self a bet­ter rider, but “find­ing a Cups horse would be a real bonus”.

“I would say from that run, he (Mer Glace) would go on to­wards the M bourne Cup, but we will wait and see w weight (penalty) he gets,” Lane said.

“(The Caulfield Cup) is a great thr it has been a long-range plan and it ha

come to­gether. It’s a big ef­fort from ev­ery­one in­volved to get here.”

Lane de­scribed Mer De Grace as “not much to look at but he’s just a trades­man”.

“He just keeps turn­ing up and win­ning. Not many horses win five on the bounce in Ja­pan be­cause they are all weight-for-age races so they go up steep ev­ery time,” the jockey said.

One of the train­ers who sup­ported Lane early in his ca­reer, Si­mon Zahra, said the jockey’s will­ing­ness to get his hands dirty stood him out as a tal­ent.

“He was a young kid when he walked through the door and now he's a freak,” Zahra said. “He's al­ways so cool and that's the one thing that is al­ways in his favour.”

Jockey Damian Lane roars to the big crowd as Mer De Glace wins the Group 1 Caulfield Cup yes­ter­day, and (bot­tom) Lane salutes the fans af­ter pulling off a rid­ing master­class on the fast-fin­ish­ing Ja­panese stayer he con­vinced con­nec­tions to bring to Aus­tralia. Pic­tures: Getty Im­ages and AAP

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