SA title chasing jockey Gavin Lerena has grown a pair of wings in the last few months and refused to let flight complications get in his way of riding a double at Scottsville on Saturday. Lerena closed the meeting four winners ahead of current champion S’manga Khumalo and also rode the third leg winner of the KZN Winter Challenge Series.
Airport meals, flight delays and living out of a suitcase, with some serious riding ability, are the lot of those dreaming of being crowned SA champion jockey and Lerena looks well set to take ‘Bling’ all the way to the wire.
He enjoyed a great week, with a double apiece at Scottsville on Wednesday and the Vaal on Thursday,a hat-trick at Fairview on Friday and then another well-taken double at Scottsville on Saturday.
After missing out on his first few rides due to flight frustrations, he eventually arrived in the KZN capital city in time to make a difference.
And the score is on the board, despite the fact that both of Lerena’s Scottsville winners were little more than armchair rides.
He was in the seat for KZN champion trainer Duncan Howells, who made it a feature double on the day when his Mambo In Seattle gelding Saratoga Dancer stormed to victory to win the R200 000 KZN Winter Challenge 1600.
The 3yo made it two wins on the trot and three victories from his last five starts and looks set to go on and win his fair share of races as a 4yo. He was highly rated from an early stage by his trainer.
Saratoga Dancer went clear from midfield to beat Translunar by 3,50 lengths in a time of 95,94 secs.
In a race dominated by the Howells team, Entree came from way back to head the reluctant pacesetter Baltic Amber into fourth.
Bred by the Gary Player Stud Farm, Saratoga Dancer is out of the Model Man mare Super Elle.
The R140 000 2013 Emperors Palace Ready To Run graduate has now won 4 races with 3 places from just 9 starts and took his stakes earnings to R443 500.
Lerena completed his personal double when steering the green as grass Fort Ember to a facile win in the last for trainer Paul Peter.
The daughter of Elusive Fort was having only her second run but looks to be loaded with potential. She will be aimed at the Gr1 Thekwini Stakes which is run over a mile on Gold Cup day.
Lerena donates R500 per winning ride to the Horse Care Unit in the jurisdiction of his win. He has issued a challenge to his colleagues and the industry to equal or better his contribution. Freeman Stallions were the first entity to take up the cause.