In-form Melbourne jockey Damian Lane will ride at the Gold Coast for the first time with his Magic Millions day rides headed by Highland Beat in the $2 million Classic for two-year-olds.
Lane rode Highland Beat to a convincing win at Moonee Valley last month before the colt was sent to Sydney where he finished second on Boxing Day at Randwick over 1200m with Brenton Avdulla aboard.
Lane has been in top form and sits second in the Victorian statewide premiership and fourth in the Melbourne jockeys’ premiership.
His recent city wins include a double at Flemington on New Year’s Day including the feature Standish Handicap on Durendal while he added another city winner at Moonee Valley on Saturday aboard Heatherly.
Highland Beat was the last horse to make the 16-horse field and is one of four horses trainers David Hayes and Tom Dabernig hope to have running on Saturday.
Gracious Prospect is set to contest the $1 million Magic Millions Cup while Catch A Fire and Moral Outrage are headed to the Maiden although the latter is 22nd in the ballot order for the $250,000 race which has a capacity field of 16.
Acceptances were taken on Monday for the 2YO Classic and 3YO Guineas with full fields of 16 plus five emergencies declared for both features.
Dabernig was impressed with Highland Beat’s Moonee Valley win when the colt led on the rail and sprinted to a 2-1/4 length victory over 1000m on December 11.
Highland Beat was on the speed again at Randwick and sprinted to the front in the straight only to be overpowered by Jeanneau.
“He was just a little bit unbalanced, I think, the first time under race pressure going that way and he drew a wide gate,” Dabernig said.
“He had to make a bit of use of him early and I thought he actually ran well. There’s improvement in him, that’s the main thing.
“He’ll be all the better for having had that run on the Sydney leg and he’s done well since that race.”
Hayes and Dabernig are chasing their first Magic Millions 2YO Classic win and Highland Beat is at $35 with the unbeaten Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Capitalist the $1.70 favourite ahead of Tuesday’s barrier draw.
“Our horse is an Exceed And Excel. He can take a handy position and I think a lot of it comes down to that track,” Dabernig said.
“There’s always a lot of pressure, and we’ll see what happens.”