Fast Lane to Japan for jockey to avoid virus
Star jockey Damien Lane plans to ride out the worst of the Australian COVID-19 crisis in Japan.
The Victorian-based West Australian must spend the next two weeks in quarantine, agent Dean Hawkes confirmed on Monday, before the Japan Racing Association rubber stamps his license.
With Australian racing on tenterhooks due to the coronavirus health emergency and restrictions on jockey movement between states, Lane made the decision to skip town.
The champion jockey is eligible for a three-month licence in Japan.
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The 26-year-old flew to Sydney after riding at Bendigo last Saturday in order to get to Japan prior to any further border closures.
Lane starred in Japan last year during a lucrative two-month stint which returned 38 winners from 125 rides, including three Group 1s.
Lane's winning strike rate was the best of any jockey to have more than 50 rides in Japan last year.
Importantly, the success led to the gun hoop scoring the rides on Japanese raiders, Caulfield Cup winner Mer De Glace and Cox Plate champion Lys Gracieux.
Lane returned to Japan last December to pilot superstar mare Lys Gracieux to an unbelievably dominant win in the Group 1 Arima Kinen, one of the nation's biggest races.
Under current Australian rules, jockeys cannot compete interstate to reduce the risk and potential spread of the virus.
It effectively limits the prizemoney top-flight Victorian jockeys', unable to participate in the Sydney can earn during the lockdown period, which could extend into Brisbane's winter carnival.
PURSES TAKE A TRIM
Racing Victoria has cut prizemoney indefinitely and stood down more than 40 per cent of its staff to handle the economic impact of COVID-19.
The prizemoney for city meetings drops by 20 per cent from April 6 while country races take a 10 per cent deduction as long as none are run for less than $20,000.
The reductions follow Racing NSW's decision to cut prizemoney in half for the Sydney autumn carnival and beyond.
Racing Victoria has adopted strict biosecurity protocols for racing and training to continue.
Chairman Brian Kruger said "incredibly tough decisions" had to be made to protect the industry's future.
"These are not decisions that we have taken lightly, however the impacts of the past fortnight and the nation's rapidly evolving economic crisis means that we must act now to help soften the blow for Victorian racing," Kruger said.
"It has become clear that this pandemic and the associated economic crisis will have a long-term impact on our industry if we don't seek to mitigate the impact now.
"It is critical for the long-term viability of the industry that we reduce our expenditure to help compensate for the short to medium-term reduction we will have in our revenues.
"This will ensure that we are in the best position to support the industry if a shutdown occurs and to subsequently lead the rebuild."
From April 6 the minimum prizemoney for city races in Victoria will range from $40,000 to $128,000 - down from $50,000 to $160,000.
Provincial races will range from $20,000 to $31,500 with country cups worth minimums of $40,500 to $63,000.
RV's contributions to the VOBIS incentive scheme will be reduced by 15 per cent (city) and 7.5 per cent, meaning the VOBIS 2YO Showdown drops from $1 million to $905,000 and the 3YO Gold Guineas $500,000 to $452,500.
RV's board and executive team have agreed to pay cuts of 50 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.
Originally published as Fast Lane to Japan for jockey to avoid virus