Damien Oliver was the homecoming hero who rode into town in the west last weekend and flew out with a group 1 win under his belt after getting Voodoo Lad up to win the Winterbottom Stakes for Victorian trainer Darren Weir.
Another prominent Perth jockey who is now among the leading lights in Melbourne, Damian Lane, will be looking to emulate Oliver's feat this weekend when he seeks to win the last group 1 race of the year in his home state.
Damien Lane on Amelie’s Star wins race 7, The Bart Cummings, on Turnbull Stakes Day at Flemington in 2017.Credit:MAL FAIRCLOUGH
Lane, who is, ironically, one of Weir's go-to jockeys in Melbourne, will partner the Darren Mcauliffe-trained gelding Gatting in the 1800-metre Kingston Town Classic at Perth's Ascot racecourse on Saturday.
While Gatting might not be among the handful of horses right at the top of the market, Lane believes the five-year-old son of Hard Spun will be a serious player at the business end of the $1 million race that brings the curtain down on the three big summer days of the Perth pre-Christmas carnival.
Lane, whose father, Michael, was a WA-based jockey and now trains at Bunbury where Lane grew up, has spent time over the past week with his family as he served out a suspension.
Refreshed and ready to go, Lane is hopeful that despite the dangers posed by the Bob Peters-owned duo Galaxy Star and Arcadia Queen, his mount Gatting can be a real threat in the Kingston Town.
"I think he's a very good chance," Lane said. "He ran really well in the Railway Stakes (a group 1 race two weeks ago in which the pair finished second to Galaxy Star) and I think the increase from 1600 metres to 1800 metres will suit him.
"That was a handicap, this is weight for age, so he might have a job against some of them on paper, but he is not without a good hope and can finish the race off well."
Lane won the Kingston Town Classic on Stratum Star in 2016 for Weir, his first group 1 in his home state, and nothing would give him a bigger buzz than to repeat the exercise in front of family and friends on Saturday.
The rider came to Melbourne when he was a two-kilogram claiming apprentice and, like many before him, battled homesickness and self doubt.
But he stuck at the task and, working in those days mainly for the Matt Ellerton/Simon Zahra combination, he quickly rode out his claim.
In the past few years he has risen to the upper echelons of the Victorian jockey ranks but has also tasted success on big days in Sydney, notching a group 1 win in the 2017 Australian Derby at Randwick for Kiwi duo Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman aboard Jon Snow, and in South Australia, where he won the SA Derby on Weir's Leicester.
This year he was the most successful group 1 jockey of the Melbourne carnival, sharing the award with Hugh Bowman with three winners at the highest level apiece.
Bowman scored two of his wins on the incomparable Winx, but Lane struck on Weir pair Humidor (Makybe Diva Stakes) and Land of Plenty (Toorak Handicap) as well as Aristia in the VRC Oaks for his old mentors, Ellerton and Zahra.
It wouldn't be a WA group 1 without Weir having a shy at the stumps, and Lane's regular Victorian employer is represented by Iconoclasm and Holy Snow, the former partnered by lightweight Victorian rider Dean Yendall, the latter by WA jockey Mitchell Pateman.
At the top of the field is the last-start group 1 winner Trap For Fools, who represents the Jarrod McLean stable. McLean is also the foreman for Weir's Warrnambool stable.
Trap For Fools, a former West Australian, showed how much he had improved with a last-start win in the Mackinnon Stakes on the final day of the Flemington Cup week carnival under John Allen.
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