Damian Lane primed for Saudi Cup shot on Crown Pride

Australian jockey Damian Lane has become the go-to gun rider for Japanese connections and has four rides on Saudi Cup night later this month, including the UAE Derby winner Crown Pride.

Damian Lane will reunite with Crown Pride in the $20 million Saudi Cup. (Photo by Mahmoud Khaled)

Michael Cox



Damian Lane hasn’t ridden Crown Pride since the duo combined to win last year’s G2 UAE Derby, but the jockey got a close-up look at his Saudi Cup mount during his last trip to Japan and liked what he saw. 

Lane was riding Badenweiler in the G1 Champions Cup at Chukyo in December, and as they paraded behind the gates he was taken by the presence of Crown Pride, a rival that day, who then ran a neck second to winner Jun Light Bolt . 

“He looks like he has developed into a big, strong horse,” Lane told Asian Racing Report after it was confirmed Crown Pride had gained a Saudi Cup invite and that the Australian had been booked to ride in Riyadh on February 25.

“When I rode him in Dubai he showed great stamina, especially given he was an early three-year-old and had only had three starts to that point. For an early three-year-old to race so well, like he did on the speed for a prolonged distance, showed the type of talent he has. 

“Unfortunately I haven’t ridden him since I won in Dubai last March, but hopefully, nearly 12-months down the track and with another preparation behind him, he has strengthened up again to go to that next level that is going to be required for this race. 

“It is probably going to be a step up in grade,” Lane said of the US$20m race. “But his form has been consistent ever since his win in Dubai without winning, and 1800m is a good trip for him. He has run well for me before and he has proven he can travel well.” 


Crown Pride has run well without winning since his Dubai victory. (Photo by Mahmoud Khaled/Getty Images)

As Lane noted, it isn’t as if Crown Pride has been out of form. The Teruya Yoshida-owned runner was well-beaten in the Kentucky Derby but resumed on the domestic circuit in September and  has since run three consecutive seconds. 

To ride Crown Pride in the world’s richest race, Lane will give up ‘some good rides’ at Caulfield on a day that features three Group 1s, the Blue Diamond, Oakleigh Plate and Futurity Stakes. 

Sweetening the deal is the fact that he will also combine with his 2022 G2 Stayers Stakes winner Silver Sonic in the US$2.5m Red Sea Turf Handicap (3000m) and with fellow Shadai homebred, the Chizu Yoshida-owned Dancing Prince in the US$1.5m G3 Riyadh Dirt Sprint (1200m), and 2020 Triple Tiara winner Daring Tact in the US$1.5m G3 Neom Turf Cup (2100m). 

Lane had already secured his status as a go-to guy in Japan and for Japanese connections abroad, but a win in a US$20 million race would lift his status to a new level altogether. 

Three years ago Lane was unknown to Japanese race fans, owners and trainers alike, but when he rode 38 wins at better than 30 per cent and won two Group 1s during a debut in 2019, it made him a fan favourite and a trusted set of hands for the biggest owners and trainers. That year was a springboard to success and he has made the most of it.  

Damian Lane throttles down Win Marilyn after a dominant Hong Kong Vase victory. (Photo by HKJC)

“Obviously some connections I have had some success with, three of them being Shadai horses. That success in Japan and offshore has opened these opportunities,” he said. 

The Australian is also hopeful of gaining rides on some of the Japanese horses aimed at the Dubai World Cup meeting on March 25, which could include his Hong Kong Vase heroine Win Marilyn, should she gain an invite for the G1 Sheema Classic. 




    Subscribe now & get exclusive weekly content from Asian Racing Report direct to your inbox

      Expert ratings, tips & analysis for Hong Kong racing