Star Japanese mare Lys Gracieux will be given the opportunity to gain experience at The Valley before she runs in the Cox Plate.
Sharing favouritism for the $5 million Cox Plate at $5 with Godolphin’s Avilius, Lys Gracieux will be taken to The Valley for a gallop and a look at the surrounds before the race on October 26.
Damian Lane has been booked for the 2019 Cox Plate ride on Lys Gracieux and is expected to partner the mare in her gallop at the course.
“At this stage we are planning to take her to Moonee Valley for schooling and also a gallop and will be hoping for Damian Lane to get on her,” trainer Yoshito Yahagi said.
Lane rode with success in Japan during the Australian winter and was aboard Lys Gracieux when she won the Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) at her most recent start on June 23.
Success in the Cox Plate will earn Lys Gracieux’s connections a $2 million bonus, on top of the $3 million first prize, following her win in the Takarazuka Kinen.
Yahagi said the bonus prize money on offer for those two races and an invitation from the Moonee Valley Racing Club were the main reasons connections chose the Cox Plate over races in Europe.
The trainer said Lys Gracieux, an experienced traveller, had settled in well to her new surrounds at the Werribee quarantine centre but had not been asked to do a lot since her arrival last week.
Yahagi said he appreciated the support from authorities that allowed a relaxation of the quarantine requirement to spend 180 days out of Hong Kong before travelling to Australia after the mare competed at Sha Tin in April.
As Lys Gracieux has matured Yahagi said 2000m to 2400m was ideal for the mare while she also handles all track conditions.
Yahagi said he was unsure at this stage who would be the mare’s toughest opponent.
“We haven’t had a look at what horses we are running up against but there’s so many good horses in Australia,” he said.