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Jockey Damian Lane hopes a late finishing burst from his mount Rising Romance on Saturday at Flemington Racecourse can see him enjoy a Group 1 win aboard the mare in the 2016 Makybe Diva Stakes.
Lane has partnered the classy Lindsay Park-trained daughter of Ekraar nine times to date, all but one of those runs being in elite company.
The duo have combined for a trio of Group 1 seconds, but a win in top class aboard the now six-year-old has so far eluded Lane.
He hopes to change that this weekend when the mare has a second shot at the $500,000 Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m).
She crossed a devastatingly close second in the weight-for-age feature last Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival when beaten a neck by Fawkner with Lane in the saddle, a performance the hoop is looking to atone for this year.
“I was a touch unlucky on her in the Makybe Diva last year, so hopefully we can go one better,” Lane told AAP.
“She was three back on the fence and didn’t get clear galloping room until the last 150 metres and Fawkner had the momentum on her.”
His other two Group 1 close calls on the New Zealand expat, who won the 2014 ATC Oaks as a three-year-old in Sydney with James McDonald aboard, came in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) last October and in this season’s Memsie Stakes (1400m).
Rising Romance resumed racing in the Memsie Stakes at Caulfield on August 27 having her first run since a 10th to Werther in Hong Kong’s Group 1 QEII Cup (2000m), Lane travelling overseas for that ride.
The Memsie Stakes result saw Rising Romance beaten 1.25 lengths by the Darren Weir-trained Black Heart Bart who is the one to beat again in the rematch on Saturday according to Dunn who rode Saturday’s favourite for his second in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) in the autumn.
“Obviously Black Heart Bart is going to be ultra-hard to beat again, but I couldn’t be happier where she’s at and the frame of mind she is in at the moment,” Dunn said.
“He’s a very good horse and the mile won’t worry him a bit.”
The bookies agree with Black Heart Bart dominating the Makybe Diva Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $2.30 to hand jockey Damien Oliver his fifth win in the race and second on the trot after his success aboard Fawkner last year.
Rising Romance is one of just two other single-figure chances in Makybe Diva Stakes betting paying $8.50 after drawing nicely in barrier two, which last produced a winner with Marasco (2007).
“She’s going really well and she’s drawn barrier two which helps,” Lane said.
“I should be able to cuddle her up right on the back of the speed and save her for one short sprint at the end.”
Since the success of Saleous (1996) 20 years ago, the only other Makybe Diva Stakes winning mare was Southern Speed (2012) ridden by Craig Williams.
That was Williams’ third success in the showdown after previous wins aboard Confectioner (2005) and Littorio (2011).
Williams returns in 2016 partnering one of two stablemates for Rising Romance in the field, He Or She, from gate six.
The fellow David & Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig-trained hopeful is also a Memsie Stakes graduate having run seventh first-up.
He has strong 1600m form however with a trio of wins from five earlier runs over the distance, including most recently the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) here over The United States in March.
He Or She pays $19 in the Makybe Diva Stakes markets, while the other Lindsay Park representative Jacquinot Bay is at $26 and on a quick seven day turnaround.
A veteran nine-year-old son of Galileo, he ran a first-up second in the Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) before crossing 4.35 lengths back eighth to Awesome Rock in last Saturday’s Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley.
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