Getting back aboard Caulfield Cup winner Mer De Glace for a piece of work at Werribee has put Damian Lane’s mind at ease ahead of the Melbourne Cup.
Lane is aiming to become the first jockey to claim Melbourne’s big three races in the same year – the Caulfield Cup, the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup – having already won the first two legs.
If he wins the Cup, Lane will join an elite group to have won the “grand slam” of Australian racing after claiming this year’s Golden Slipper on Kiamichi.
If Mer De Glace wins, it also gives the Japanese a clean sweep of Melbourne’s three major races with Lane riding Lys Gracieux to win the Cox Plate.
Mer De Glace steps up 800m from his Caulfield Cup (2400m) win on October 19 with Lane seeing that as the only negative ahead of Tuesday’s $8 million Cup at Flemington.
Lane partnered Mer De Glace for the first time since the Caulfield Cup on Friday at Werribee.
“He was out there for a stretch of the legs and seemed in pretty good order,” Lane said.
“If anything he was a little bit brighter than when I worked him at Caulfield before he won the Caulfield Cup.
“That was the main thing we were looking for today.”
During a two-month stint in Japan, Lane partnered Mer De Glace to two Group Three victories which convinced him the five-year-old was a worthy Caulfield Cup contender.
“I was confident before the Caulfield Cup as that was around his distance range,” Lane said.
“What we have to take in this time is it’s the first time he’s raced as close as two-and-a-half weeks as most of his runs have been two months apart.
“That’s another question mark, but from what I’ve seen this morning, he’s pretty fit and well.”
Lane said Japanese horses were athletes, and Mer De Glace was a typical case.
“He keeps stepping up to the mark and he keeps winning,” Lane said.
“He turns up and does his job. He’s a good, genuine, fast horse.”
Lane said to be a part of the Melbourne Cup was a thrill and to win would raise the bar to a higher level.
“It’s been a great carnival and I’ve been lucky to get on some quality Japanese gallopers and I know I’m on the right horse,” Lane said.
“It’s been a big year but it hasn’t sunk in yet either.”
Trainer Hisashi Shimizu said Mer De Glace had recovered well from his Caulfield Cup win and was progressing nicely towards the Melbourne Cup.
“I’m not worried about it being only two weeks but one thing I worry about is the distance,” he said through a translator.
“But I believe he can stay two miles.”