Punters are always looking for a proven superior individual – trainer, jockey or horse – who is about to bounce back from a lean spell.
On Saturday at Turffontein it might be former champion jockey Gavin Lerena, who has a promising book of rides as racing is staged on the Inside track.
The 2021 Vodacom Durban July hero has done little wrong since that unforgettable day when Kommetdieding won a nation’s heart. He’s had decent rides in the interim, but just not the little twists of fate that change everyday fortunes.
On Saturday, Lerena starts his working day aboard Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained Veneta in Race 2, a Maiden Plate for three-year-old fillies. He was in the saddle ate when the youngster looked full of running and placed second in a sprint at the Vaal and he is probably figuring on going one better this time.
That day Veneta was re-emerging from an eight-month hibernation following a pacy debut effort when she was possibly still a bit immature.
In the third race, Lerena partners newcomer Covert Operator for Van Vuuren and the betting should be closely watched for hints of stable confidence as there’s not too much for the gelding to beat.
In Race 5, a Maiden Plate for females, Lerena does duty for Mike de Kock on Clafoutis, a choicely bred filly from Wilgerbosdrift who looks ready to win on her third outing. She, too, was a runner-up under Lerena in her last race – run out of it at the death. Down from that 1600m on the tough outside course to 1450m on the Inside track indicates one of the better bets on the card.
Back To Black is a must inclusion in all bets in the sixth as Lerena rides for Roy Magner. The four-year-old is game and in form but must face six-length debut winner Shangani, who is the proverbial “could-be-anything” runner.
Another clear winning chance for the ace rider comes in Race 7 as he and Reunion try to land a hat-trick for trainer Paul Peter. The team will be full of confidence after comfortable wins on this track and on the Vaal Classic, a month apart. It’s now 58 days since the last triumph and there’s nothing to suggest it won’t be a repeat – other than that a horse called Willow’s Wish from the Sean Tarry Yard is also trying for three-in-a-row.
Who said racing was straightforward?
Lerena rounds off his day’s work back in league with Van Vuuren in the ninth and last. The beast of burden here is three-year-old filly Big Eyed Girl, who Lerena has ridden three times before – for first, second and third places.
The girl has a minor breathing problem but delivers of her best when asked and should again.
7 Icy Night, 2 Forgotten Time, 1 Ra’ed, 4 On The Warpath
8 Venta, 3 Bonnaro, 2 Baby Don’t Hurt Me, 5 Manhattan
1 Sicilian Tiger, 9 Triple Decker, 2 Maraca Ginger, 8 Red Saxon
3 Bella Chica, 5 Seemyvision, 2 Greens, 4 Freedom Seeker
9 Clafoutis, 4 Beltway, 5 Magic To The Fore, 7 Constantia Haze
3 Shangani, 1 Oyster King, 5 Back To Black, 9 Iron Will
1 Reunion, 8 Willow’s Wish, 9 Twin Turbo, 6 Our Coys
3 White Fang, 5 Barak. 1 Out Of Your League, 8 The Sash
4 Big Eyed Girl, 2 Verinova, 3 Miss Magician, 7 Samoa
2,3,4,5 x 4,9 x 1,3 x 1,4,5,6,8,9 x 1,3,5,8 x 1,2,3,4,7 (R1920)
1,2,9 x 3,5 x 9 x 3 x 1,8,9 x 3,5 x 2,4 (R72)
Best: Race 1 No 6 Poltergeist
Value: Race 8 No 6 Anecdote
Best: Race 4 No 2 Cape Eagle
Value: Race 8 No 10 Banzai Pipeline