In-form pair strike with another mare
Takaoka-Lerner partnership score with Caribbean Lady, two days after Makanani's nose victory
Just on Friday night, the Hideyuki Takaoka-Marc Lerner combination scored with Makanani in an $85,000 Class 2 race over 1,600m.
On Sunday, the trainer and jockey partnership brought up a double - thanks to another mare, Caribbean Lady, in the $50,000 Class 4 race over the Polytrack 1,600m.
It was the team's eighth success this year. Takaoka and Lerner have paired up on a more frequent basis at the beginning of the year.
Caribbean Lady, who was backed down to second favourite at $19, is sired by Your Song and her dam is Caribbean Moon, a US-bred mare formerly trained by Takaoka.
"Caribbean Lady is quite a straightforward mare to train. I also trained her mother, who was not a bad mare," said the soft-spoken Japanese trainer, who has over the years built up a solid reputation as a conditioner of gallopers of the fairer sex.
"I left it to Marc on how to ride her, but she had to be up with the pace from the good draw. Marc did the right thing to test the leader early. It was a nice win."
Lerner, who was recording his 19th win, said the penny has not fully dropped for the Australian-bred mare racing in the same colours as Takaoka's former champion mare Better Life.
Both are owned by Suzuka Racing Stable.
"She is a consistent horse. She ran second (to Magnificent Gold) with me two starts back, and she just repeated that performance today," said Lerner.
"She is still not 100 per cent focused. She will improve with more racing.
"The pace was slow and we kicked at the 600m, the others were left flat-footed. They could not make ground on us."
Utilising barrier No. 2 to good effect with a smart getaway, the previous one-time winner of a Class 4 race over 1,600m in April raced to the lead.
But Life Is Gamble, ridden by A'Isisuhairi Kasim, had the same designs after breaking from pole position.
Lerner wisely decided to ease back, a half-body in arrears, while keeping the leader in their sights.
Turning for the judge, the two pacemakers were still making play. The swoopers were throttling up into overdrive in a bid to bridge the gap, but to no avail as it would turn out.
The $14 favourite Implement (Daniel Moor) and Awesome (CC Wong) momentarily looked the goods, as they spearheaded that last cavalry charge. But they were soon clutching at straws, as were the others.
Splitting away from the whole kit and caboodle, Life Is Gamble and Caribbean Lady were well clear at the 200m mark and showed no intentions of giving up their best seats.
This paved the way for a stirring two-horse war inside the last 300m.
Caribbean Lady had poked her head in front by the 200m marker, but Life Is Gamble was steadfastly punching his way back along the rails, giving the impression he could turn the tables back on Takaoka's mare.
Lerner, who lifted Makanani home for a nose victory over Loyal Man on Friday night, might not the strongest jockey at Kranji.
But he again showcased his trademark Gallic poise and flair in a ding-dong battle, extracting the last drops of petrol from Caribbean Lady to stave off Life Is Gamble off by half a length.
The winning time was 1min 39.93sec.
Caribbean Lady has now earned about $85,000 for Suzuka Racing Stable from two two wins, two seconds and two thirds from 12 starts.