By Gary Harley
Thirty-five-year-old Wyong trainer Damien Lane has trained three winners in the past week and he is confident of another at Newcastle on Saturday. Lane prepares promising 3yo Oakfield General which attempts back-to-back victories in the 1400 metre Class 2 Handicap tomorrow.
Bred and raced by Port Stephens Mayor, Bruce MacKenzie, the gelding has had three starts. He was runner-up to Allied Power in a strong Gosford Maiden on debut on May 4.
Three weeks later Oakfield General wasn’t far away when fourth in another quality Maiden at Newcastle. Lane decided to step the horse up in distance on the Newcastle track two weeks ago.
South African apprentice Jean Van Overmeire rode Oakfield General in the 1400 metre Maiden and he produced a peach of a ride.
The horse was third on the rail to the top of the straight where he got a split and eventually nailed the Chris Waller-trained Vanell on the line.
Lane believes Oakfield General can win again despite a sharp rise in class: “It is difficult enough to win a Maiden and then a Class 1 at their next start, so I have set Oakfield General a tough task by running him in this Class 2, however, there was not a suitable Class 1 programmed in the area and I am confident that he can win anyway.
"I doubt he’ll get the cosy run behind the leader as he did last start, but if he isn’t three wide, he will be strong to the line. I intend on spelling the horse after Saturday's run and he will be a more mature horse in his second preparation.
"Oakfield General is the first horse that I have trained for Bruce MacKenzie and I have another five of his young ones on the books. It has been a good week as we had a double at Coonamble last Sunday and a winner at Wyong on Thursday. That makes it 31 winners for the season and I am over the moon with that result,” Lane said.
Another in-form Wyong galloper, Ultimate Fantasy, is another attractive ride for Van Overmeire in the final event, the Altus Traffic Benchmark 65 Handicap 1600m. Formerly trained by Greg Bennett, the mare has thrived since entering Kim Waugh’s stable.
Ultimate Fantasy was successful first-up for Waugh at Newcastle on May 6 and in her next two starts was narrowly beaten when second at both Hawkesbury and Gosford. Last start the mare stormed home from the tail of the field to win a Goulbourn 1600 metre event. Ultimate Fantasy will only carry 54½ kilograms after Van Overmeire’s claim.
The Godolphin stable, fresh from a winning treble at Newcastle on Tuesday, will have four runners at Newcastle. They are Polemic (race 1), Risaldar (race 6), Sonoran (race 6), and Cliveden (race 7). Polemic and Cliveden are expected to be favourites in their respected races.