Lane kicks off New Year with sparkling hat-trick
Thank Heavens was the aptly-named clincher of a sparkling hat-trick for Geoff Lane yesterday as the Australian cleared away the old-year blues with the first treble of his training career.
Lane had endured a depressing December, drawing a blank for the month after a great start which had brought 12 winners in the first three months of the season. His first winner of the day, the impressive newcomer Hokkien All, broke a losing streak of 34 runners for the stable and he quickly followed up with Lucky Victories and Thank Heavens.
The first two winners gave reigning champion Robbie Fradd a double to start the year.
A relieved Lane said: 'When you go so long without a winner, you start to lose a bit of confidence and you wonder where you might be going wrong.
'We had started the season so well, but then we just hit a brick wall.'
There had been signs from the track recently that Lane might be about to turn the corner, and the trainer admitted he had fancied Thank Heavens in the last race. The five-year-old, having his first run since his transfer from David Oughton's stable early in the season, had undergone an operation because he had been making a noise but had been working as well as ever recently.
He justified Lane's confidence as he came with a strong run in the 1,200-metre contest to score by two lengths, from Basic Instinct, under Eric Legrix, who has enjoyed such a prolific association with the stable.
'I am very pleased with that. Eric has ridden lots of winners for me in the past but that was his first for me this season,' Lane said.
Legrix earlier missed out on another winner for Lane when he deserted newcomer Hokkien All in favour of Francis Lui's New Planet in the second race.
The Frenchman had been the regular morning partner for Lane's acquisition from New Zealand but, when he opted for New Planet, Fradd stepped in for the ride on Hokkien All, who showed real fighting qualities to edge out Silver Collector and Rory's Bid by a head and a neck in the 1,150-metre dirt event.
'It threw me a bit when Eric went for the other horse because he had done all the trackwork and trials on Hokkien All,' admitted Lane, who added that he was slightly surprised the four-year-old had done so well first time up.
'His trackwork was not quite right and I had blood samples and bone scans done to try to get to the bottom of the problem. I just hoped he would react the right way to being here on raceday, and he did.'