Historic Cox Plate win for Lys Gracieux (JPN) at The Valley

Japan’s Lys Gracieux (JPN) won an historic victory in the 2019 A$5m, Group 1 WS Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on Saturday, October 26th, with the Yoshito Yahagi trained six-year-old Heart’s Cry mare under Damien Lane taking first prize of A$3 million and a A$2 million Moonee Valley Racing Club international bonus.

Lys Gracieux (JPN) and Damien Lane in full flight, picture Quentinjlang.com
Lys Gracieux (JPN) and Damien Lane in full flight, picture Quentinjlang.com

The bonus was triggered by Lys Gracieux winning the Group 1 Takarazuka Kinen over 2200m at Hanshin in June, when also ridden by Lane, and following that up with the famous victory on Saturday.

The win was dominant with Lane riding a race that first settled the mare in 10th after leaving from the wide barrier of 11 and second using her superior ability to power around the field from the 600m.

The field was led by Magic Wand (IRE) and Ryan Moore followed by Black Heart Bart and Brad Rawiller as they went through the bottom straight and down the back. Lys Gracieux and Lane were content to race one off the rails waiting for the time to strike.

Across the top Lane started to move as the intensity increased at the 600m and he had Lys Gracieux wide and with clear racing room.

Up front there was change as the leaders fell away. Three-year-old Castelvecchio and Craig Williams, with 49.5kg under the weight-for-age conditions went to the lead and it was a good lead at the 200m.

Outside, Lys Gracieux, with 57kg, had come six wide and very quickly from the 300m, and she surged up to Castelvecchio passing the colt with 75m to run. The mare went past and then away to a 1 1/2L victory. It was a superior performance by the best runner in the field.

Castelvecchio (Dundeel) and Williams were clear in second with Te Akau Shark (NZ) (Rip Van Winkel) and Opie Bosson coming with a rails run for third, the margin 2L. Magic Wand held on for fourth and Mystic Journey was fifth.

The time was 2.04.21 on the Good 4 track with the final 600m in 35.83.

“I honestly thought she is not going to make it from there,” said Yahagi through a translator.

“Damian Lane was in Japan and rode this mare, it all started from there and then came here so it was super important.”

“I was here when Kingston Town won back in 1982, it has been over 30 years so I finally came back ‘home’. To win a Cox Plate meant a lot to me.”

“Thanks very much to Lys Gracieux, connections and to the Australian people. It is my home town,” he said
“Unbelievable. To grow up as a racing fan watching this race and watching my idols win this race, to now be on the honour roll is such a privilege,” said Lane.

“The pace was a lot stronger than I thought it would be to the first corner. I just rode her back. She got a bit keen when the pace came out of the race but gee I was confident once I got her out down the straight.

“She probably didn’t get around the track too well but was just too good anyway,'' he said.

Lane rode in Japan on a JRA contract over the northern summer.

“They are beasts, it’s just great to be associated with them,'' he commented on the quality of horses in Japan.

"I will be back Melbourne Cup Day so let’s hope we can do some more damage there.

“I cannot believe how good it’s been. I was so well looked after. I was set up with a good translator there, I was set up with a very good trainer and I just couldn’t have hoped for things to go better.

“For them to come out here and put the confidence in me to put me on them, I am forever grateful,” he said.

Lys Gracieux, out of the American Post mare Liliside, was winning for the sixth time from 21 starts and with 12 placings she has now earned stakes of A$11,192,047, plus the A$2 million bonus for Dr H Akital’s U Carrot Farm.