Australian jockey Damien Lane combines with Lys Gracieux (JPN) to win the Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin


The 60th running of the ¥325 million, Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) at Hanshin on Sunday marked not just the final Grade I of the 2019 Japanese spring racing season, but also the second Grade 1 success in Japan for Australian jockey Damien Lane with Lys Gracieux (JPN).

Lys Gracieux (JPN) and Australian jockey Damien Lane winning the Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) at Hanshin, picture Japan Racing Association
Lys Gracieux (JPN) and Australian jockey Damien Lane winning the Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) at Hanshin, picture Japan Racing Association

Victoria based Lane is riding in Japan on a short-term license since the end of April and back in May he won the Grade 1 Victoria Mile over 1600m at Tokyo with Normcore (JPN). Lane has registered 37 victories including six graded titles riding in JRA races.

Along with the Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) at year-end, the Takarazuka Kinen is a bow to Japan’s racing fans, who cast votes for their favourite horses, those they most want to see in the race.

Third favourite Lys Gracieux was winning her first Grade 1 title since last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,200m) at Kyoto in November, she was runner-up in both the following Hong Kong Vase (G1, 2,400m) in December and the Kinko Sho (G2, 2,000m) in March and came off a third in Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1, 2,000m) in April.
This win marked trainer Yoshito Yahagi’s seventh JRA-G1 win following his Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) title with Loves Only You in May.

Lys Gracieux broke well from from the outside barrier and settled unusually toward the front to press the pace behind Kiseki. Turning the last corner outside the frontrunner, still in second, the five-year-old daughter of Heart’s Cry made bid immediately after entering the lane, duelled strongly with the race favourite until overtaking the front 200 meters out and then moving up into a higher gear to easily pull away for a clean three-length victory.

Damien Lane holds up the victorious saddle cloth number 12, picture Japan Racing Association
Damien Lane holds up the victorious saddle cloth number 12, picture Japan Racing Association

“The horse turned out in perfect condition. I was very lucky to be able to board her today. She broke well and I thought I might as well use that to my advantage,” said Lane.

“I was very confident turning in that she had plenty left in the tank and I was worried that there were a lot of good horses chasing and I thought that they would challenge, but she was just too strong,” he said.

Race favourite Kiseki (JPN), though breaking somewhat slowly from the innermost barrier, took the front as usual to set the pace and continued to hold on well even after entering the homestretch. The son of Rulership, however, ran out of fuel in the last 200 meters while still managing to come in second.

Sixth pick Suave Richard (JPN) travelled wide behind Lys Gracieux, around fourth from the front, and continued to chase the eventual winner until the wire, passing Al Ain (JPN) along the way to finish two lengths behind Kiseki in third.

Lys Gracieux, out of the American Post mare Liliside, has now won five of her 20 starts earning stakes of ¥681,039,500 for owners U Carrot Farm.