“They are just crazy, even though we were behind the gates in the back straight we could hear them from the other side of the track, cheering before the race,” Lane said. “It has been full on, every time you win a race the fans are hanging over the fence looking for an autograph. I sign a few when I get a chance between races but you can’t get through them all.”
It’s little wonder Lane has been so busy. Between that first weekend and the maiden overseas group 1 last Sunday, he won a group 2 for Godolphin on Tower Of London and enters this weekend with an incredible overall record of 13 wins from 44 rides at a tick under 30 per cent.
That freakish on-track success – combined with a little bit of luck and the right off-track support – has resulted in Lane snaring the rides on top chances for upcoming features after leading rider Christophe Lemaire was suspended for careless riding.
Fans are already camping outside Tokyo Racecourse ahead of Sunday’s Yushun Himba (Oaks), in which Lane will ride leading contender Contra Check, and the level of expectation will be taken up a notch seven days later when he rides burgeoning superstar Saturnalia in the Tokyo Yushun (Derby).
“The media coverage is pretty intense and every time the press want to talk to me, they always ask about Saturnalia,” said Lane, after travelling to Ritto training centre near Kyoto to ride the horse in trackwork on Wednesday. “He gave me as good a feel as I have had on a horse for a very long time.”
Saturnalia is a son of new sire sensation Lord Kanaloa and out of Oaks winner Cesario, making him a half brother to 2014 Japan Cup winner Epiphaneia, and if he can extend his record to five-from-five on Sunday week he will be the first unbeaten Derby winner since Japan’s all-time great Deep Impact in 2005.
Lane has landed on his feet in Japan, with his translator and representative Adam Harrigan helping him link with top trainers like Contra Check’s Kazuo Fujisawa, Saturnalia’s handler Katsuhiko Sumii and renowned horseman Noriyuki Hori, who has sponsored Lane’s two-month stint.
“I am lucky to have the people that I have around me, and I am working with top trainers, but Hori is a standout, he just has such a good handle on things,” Lane said. “His attention to detail is great. It’s the little things he notices. When a horse comes back from a gallop he doesn’t just look at the horse, he will place his hand up to its nostrils and feel their breath. He just notices things that some people wouldn’t even bother looking at.”
Their is mutual admiration from the trainer – the duo have combined for three wins so far and Hori has identified Lane’s insight in the mornings as key.
“He has been a pleasure to work with and very professional at trackwork,” Hori said via a translator. “The feedback he has given me about horses has already yielded results on the track.”
Lane has already picked up rudimentary language skills and plans to return to Japan after this two-month stint, but is also looking for possible Cups candidates less than six months out from the Melbourne majors.
“I would love to come back and the Japanese love to travel horses to so hopefully this stint gives me a look-in down the line, whether it is travelling horses to Australia or even Dubai,” the 25-year-old said. “You never know, it might open up some opportunities. “
Three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Glen Boss has announced he will return from a three-year stint in Singapore to be based in Melbourne from the start of next racing season.