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Damian Lane Japan-bound once again, set to join star-studded roster

Suspension of Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon opens up a spot for Australian jockey during a lucrative few weeks of the JRA schedule.

Japan-bound jockey Damian Lane says he is excited about the possibility of a first Japan Cup ride and another opportunity to link with the country’s star horses during a planned upcoming stint. 

Christophe Soumillon’s 60-day suspension for unseating Rossa Ryan in France has ruled the Belgian out of a planned trip and opened a spot on a star-studded roster that features overseas visitors Ryan Moore, Cristian Demuro, Hollie Doyle and Tom Marquand. 

Lane intends to start his stint, pending Japan Racing Association formalities, on the weekend beginning November 12, ride in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup on the following day and then through a period that could include rides in the G1 Mile Championship, G1 Japan Cup and G1 Champions Cup on consecutive weekends. 

“It will be nice to ride at that time of year, I haven’t ridden in a Japan Cup and it is definitely one of those races you dream of competing in,” Lane told Asian Racing Report.

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Damian Lane on Lys Gracieux returns to scale after winning the Cox Plate. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

The 28 year-old has ridden 102 JRA winners in various short stints in the past three years and rode 23 winners at an impressive strike rate of 18.7 percent during a two months visit earlier this year. 

Lane’s overall strike rate in Japan is 23.2% and he has forged relationships with top trainers Yoshito Yahagi and Noriyuki Hori, as well as breeding and racing powerhouse Northern Farm, which has also resulted in success on Japanese horses when they travel. 

“That is another upside of being there, hopefully I can pick up those rides that lead to new opportunities down the track,” he said. 

It has certainly worked for Lane previously; the Melbourne-based rider won the 2019 G1 Caulfield Cup (Mer de Glace) and Cox Plate (Lys Gracieux) on Japanese visitors and earlier this year added the G2 UAE Derby on Crown Pride. 

There are no Japanese visitors in Australia this year but Lane could be yet be set for a big spring. He rides three-year-old Jacquinot in Saturday’s Everest and is booked to ride Young Werther in the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup. 

On the Golden Rose winner Jacquinot, Lane was encouraged to see the Golden Rose fourth-placegetter Golden Mile win the Caulfield Guineas last weekend. 

“I understand that it is a different type of race but I still think it franks that form,” he said. “It is a big challenge for Jacquinot to be tackling those seasoned sprinters but he deserves his chance after what he did in the Golden Rose.” 

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