Australian jockey Damien Lane and Normcore (JPN) combine to win Grade 1 Victoria Mile at Tokyo

Damien Lane became the sixth Australian jockey to win a Grade I in Japan when he stormed to victory under the Kiyoshi Hagiwara trained Normcore (JPN) to win the ¥ 226,800,000, Victoria Mile (1600m) at Tokyo on Sunday.

Normcore (JPN) and Damien Lane (4) winning the Grade 1 Victoria  Mile (1600m) at Tokyo, picture Japan Racing Association
Normcore (JPN) and Damien Lane (4) winning the Grade 1 Victoria Mile (1600m) at Tokyo, picture Japan Racing Association

Lane joined Michael Clarke, Jay Ford, Craig Williams, Hugh Bowman and Zac Purton as Australians to have succeeded at the highest level in Japan with Australian based and New Zealand born Brett Scott joining them from Australasia with his jumps feature wins.

Not only did Lane win with Normcore, one of six winners for Lane over last weekend, they created a new track record of 1:30.5 shortening the record time by as much as 0.8 seconds for the Tokyo circuit.

Lane has been riding in Japan under a short-term license since the end of April with Normcore’s win his third Graded win for the JRA following the Niigata Daishoten (G3) and the Keio Hai Spring Cup (G2).

“It feels great to win a Grade 1 in Japan,” said Lane.

“She handled the mile great. I think the tempo of the mile really suited her and she travelled lovely and really finished strong.

“I always felt she was going to finish the race strong and she was going to be right there, but I just did not know whether there were going to be good horses coming from behind, but she was good enough to hold them of,” he said.

It was the first Grade 1 win for Normcore. After winning both her two starts as a two-year-old, the Harbinger filly was unable to race in the classics, finishing third in the first two graded starts of her three-year-old season.

Her first Graded title came in the Shion Stakes (G3, 2,000m) in September and she was fifth in her first Grade 1 attempt in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in November. This year, Normcore came off a second and a seventh in two Grade 3 races in January and March, respectively.

This win marked trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara’s third JRA-Grade 1 title following his win in the Champions Cup with Le Vent Se Leve last year.

Breaking smoothly from stall four, Normcore traveled two-wide in mid-field, around seventh from frontrunner Aerolithe who set a rapid pace. Entering the straight behind Lucky Lilac, the Harbinger filly swung to the outside and unleashed a powerful turn of speed, passing her rivals one by one including the race favourite.

The four-year-old gray reached the front 100 meters out and held off the fast-closing Primo Scene (JPN) (Deep Impact) under Yuichi Fukunaga to cross the wire in the record time. Crocosmia (JPN) (Stay Gold) and Keita Tosaki were third.

Normcore, out of the Kurofune mare Chronologist, was bred by Northern Farm and she is owned by Seiichi Iketani. Her four wins from nine starts have taken her career earnings to ¥ 208,258,000.

In a further Australian note to this 14th renewal of the Victorian Mile, second placed Primo Scene is out of the Fastnet Rock Australian Group 1 winning mare Mosheen (AUS).