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Lane's "Seen Enough" To Rate Obamburumai A Doncaster Player

By Ray Hickson

Damian Lane is old hat when it comes to first experiences on a Japanese galloper and he didn’t need to let Obamburumai go at his first look at Randwick to know he’s on a live chance in Saturday’s Group 1 $4m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m).

Several trips to Japan to ride over the past five years, notching five Group 1s and several other features, have him well versed on the class of horse in the racing powerhouse and after putting him through his paces on Wednesday he said Obamburumai feels like a quality animal.

We’ve already had a taste of what the four-year-old can do with his Golden Eagle win last spring and, while he hasn't raced since that famous win, trainer Keiji Yoshimura described him as a stronger, more grown up, horse now.

“He’s been out here before, he’s travelled well, and that gives me confidence he can handle the occasion,’’ Lane said.

Damian Lane on Obamburumai at Randwick.

“He gives a great feel, I haven’t fully tested him and until I do that race day I won’t be sure where he lines up.

“He worked nicely, he handled the circuit well and finished off well.

“I didn’t use his turn of pace, he was just here to familiarise himself with the track and for me to get a feel of him. I didn’t let him go full speed.

“The trainer was happy with where his fitness is at so we didn’t need to test him this morning. I’ve seen enough to be confident.”

Lane said the Japanese horses are able to sustain a good gallop, he says that’s their best attribute, and Obamburumai showed he can do that in his Golden Eagle win.

The big question is how the gelding might handle the surface if it’s in the heavy range though Lane said the one time he struck soft ground in Japan it was “softer than usual” so that’s a good sign.

He feels if Obamburumai can tick that box then he’s a major player in the Doncaster, where he was a $9 chance with TAB on Wednesday.

“He’s a quality horse, he gets into the race with the right weight and right barrier,’’ Lane said.

“There’s nothing I’ve seen that worries me too much, I think he’s going to be a great chance.

“He’s Group 1 placed in Japan and obviously won the Golden Eagle so 55kg is a good weight to get into this race. We may get a wet track, not knowing where the A1 ground is going to be at least barrier eight gives us options.”

Yoshimura said it’s a shame Josh Parr, who rode Obamburumai in the Golden Eagle, couldn’t continue that association on Saturday but is pleased to have Lane as a replacement.

He said the horse seemed to handle his first Randwick experience well and his gallop topped him off for the race.

“We are aware that tracks are different and conditions are different so we are hoping he can handle it,’’ Yoshimura said.

“I’m not concerned with the distance and in terms of the track as long as it’s not too heavy we’re not concerned.

“He looks very smooth with the jockey on board, as a last piece of work I’m very happy.”

All the fields, form and replays for Day 1 of The Star Championships at Randwick

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