Damien Lane returns home to win thrilling Coonamble Cannonball

Damien Lane (middle) was all smiles after he and Madeline Owen (second from left) combined to win Sunday’s Coonamable Cannonball with Safado.
Image: Racing Photography.

It was a thrilling finish to the 2023 Coonamble Cannonball (1100m), and the result went to local product and Wyong trainer Damien Lane.

Venturing back home with a team of six gallopers, Lane conceded it hadn’t been his day up until the Cannonball, but misery quickly turned to joy when he watched Madeline Owen flashing late on Safado ($8) in the $35,000 feature sprint. 

It was an exciting affair, and there was a real charge for the lead before the Clint Lundholm-trained Beauchamp (Ronald Simpson, $5.50) took up the running. 

Despite his early work, Beauchamp was game to the line, finishing fourth and was beaten only 1.18 lengths in a blanket finish.

Safado, on the other hand, sat at the rear of the fiend smoking his pipe before finishing strongly down the outside, edging the Bryan Dixon Jnr-trained Ecker Road (Shayleigh Ingelse, $31) by 0.43 of a length while in a somewhat unlucky third placing, the Stephen Jones-trained Toro Toro (Nick Heywood, $11) was beaten only 0.52 of a length. 

Lane put all the praise back on Owen, who provided Safado with an inch-perfect ride. 

“It was a bit tight for a run there early in the straight,” Lane said. 

“To Maddy’s credit, we haven’t had much luck today, but I don’t think she’s done a lot wrong, and I just said, ‘Don’t panic, he’s got a good, sharp 200m sprint, and don’t go early’, and she definitely listened, and she left it to the last minute, and he hit the line good.”

The Wyong trainer was arguably most pleased for loyal owner Pete Colley, who backed Lane to get the job done with the former Kris Lees-trained galloper.

“It’s a great result for Pete Colley; he’s a great owner and supporter of ours,” Lane said. 

“He’s been involved in this horse throughout its whole career, and when all the other owners decided to move it on, he bought all the others out and gave him a chance with me.

“We’ve had plenty of placings with him, but we haven’t been able to get him over the line, and I said to Pete, ‘1100m is his trip, and in the bush where they really run along’, and it’s just good to win it for him, and to get the main race is good.”

Lane is no stranger to success at Coonamble, and he last won the Cannonball in 2017, with Kanguru (Jean Van Overmeire) taking out the feature. 

Enjoying a good day at Coonamble on Sunday were jockeys Nick Heywood and Jake Barrett, who both booted home winning doubles. 

Heywood won on the Luke Pepper-trained Big Time Charlie ($2) in the 1600m Maiden Plate, and in the ride of the day, he guided the Stephen Jones-trained Oh No Bro ($4.40) to a good win in the 1600m Benchmark 58 Handicap. 

Barrett, who is currently claiming 1.5kg, guided the Michael Lunn-trained Rewarding Belle ($5.50) to a popular win in the 1200m two-year-old Handicap before landing a rough result on the Dar Lunn-trained Daredevil ($31) in the 1100m Class Three Handicap. 

Scone trainer Luke Pepper also had a good day, preparing two winners on the program. 

Big Time Charlie (see above) was joined in the winner’s circle by Keikoku (Matthew Palmer, $3.10), which took out the 1300m Class One Handicap. 

For all Coonamble results, click here.