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Lerena – ‘Moore Doesn’t Know The Bridge’

Former SA Champion wishes UK star good luck

Past SA Champion jockey Gavin Lerena has only four rides on Sun Met day but will not ride in the flagship feature.

The decision to jock Lerena off of last year’s Met winner Rainbow Bridge and fly in superstar Ryan Moore was widely assumed to be that of the big horse’s owner Mike Rattray.

Gavin Lerena – ‘bitter pill to swallow’ (Pic – JC Photos)

But Rattray explained to Michael Clower on Sunday: “I didn’t do anything. I employ my trainer to train my horses and he must make the decisions. Ryan Moore was his recommendation and I told him ‘Whatever you decide – it’s your business.’“

Sadly Rattray, whose life’s mission is to win the Durban July, does not expect to make the Met. The 87-year-old is having problems with his spine and is under doctor’s orders to take it easy.

Former champion Lerena was first booked for Rainbow Bridge when Anton Marcus, who had won the Met on him, preferred to ride Hawwaam in the Vodacom Durban July. Lerena was beaten less than half a length by Do It Again in the big one. This season Lerena has ridden the five-year-old to finish third in both the WSB Green Point and the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.

Eric Sands, explaining the background to the recommendation to replace Lerena, said yesterday that he had not been entirely happy with the way his horse had been ridden in his two races this season.

The decision to get a new jockey was a hard one to take, particularly as he has known Gavin and his father for decades – “But at the end of the day it was about making the right decision for the horse and so I told Gavin that I had decided to make a change. He was more understanding than I expected.”

With the doubt about Do It Again’s participation Sands spoke to Justin Snaith and Richard Fourie who rode Rainbow Bridge to win the horse’s first three races as well as last season’s Champions Cup. But the dual July winner’s recovery put paid to that.

When Sands spoke to Rattray, the owner suggested Frankie Dettori – “But we couldn’t get hold of him. However I knew Jehan Malherbe had a link to Ryan Moore who is, if not the best jockey in the world, certainly one of the top four. So I spoke to Jehan about getting him.”

Lerena said Sunday: “The Met was Rainbow Bridge’s mission and to be jocked off when the horse is going over his right trip is a bitter pill to swallow. I believe he goes very well for me. He doesn’t over-race and he runs as straight as an arrow whereas he hangs with some of the other jockeys who have ridden him. All the best to Ryan – he is one of the greatest – but he doesn’t know Rainbow Bridge.”

Moore, 36, first jockey to Aidan O’Brien’s all-conquering Ballydoyle operation, has won big races all over the world including the Derby (twice), Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (twice), Melbourne Cup, Japan Cup and nine Breeders’ Cup races – but so far nothing in South Africa.

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53 comments on “Lerena – ‘Moore Doesn’t Know The Bridge’

  1. Maddox says:

    Well said Eric Sands. Clearly neither does Lerena “know Rainbow Bridge” otherwise he’d still have the ride.

  2. Aropax says:

    Sadly when a horse gets beaten.. Trainer under pressure. Owner said he didnot mind who 🤔. Gavin DOES KNOW HIM. He is no idiot. Its when they get beat its to much heat… Lets see how moore does. Hes one of the best right 👍.. If he gets beat lets see the heat then.. In saying that i wish the owner trainer and rainbow Bridge all the best… Gavin is a superb sportsman and its a bitter pill to swallow indead.. But he will always get up and go forwards and rides mannnnny feature winners..

  3. Svkm says:

    It’s quite disrespectful to the great Jockey Gavin Lerena has been in South Africa. Vardy won both the races quite comfortably, Rainbow was clearly the best of the rest.

  4. Rudy Moodley says:

    Whilst one feels bad for Gavin Lerena, I feel Eric Sands is acting responsibly by wanting the best outcome of his charge.At the end of the day, he had the conviction to choose an accomplished international rider.What a pleasure to see RM grace our tracks.Well done Eric.

  5. Derek Hodson says:

    It’s great that Do it again is running Both RB and DIA are best over this distance. But Vardy is the new kid on the block. Hawaam has mental problems. Nothing ever goes right when he is around. Cape Town. First Second Third. You choose the order

  6. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Mr Rattray, true Gentleman, I hope you win the 2020 July with RB, that is if Vardy is not in the line up, by then Hawwaam is in UK.

    Eric Sands, made a brave decision, unlucky for Gavin, in Afr we say ‘Dis n k+k een’, but Gavin will be back. Hoping he will ride National Park during Dbn season.

    RB will probably run his normal good race for 3rd or 4th this time, but behind Hawwaam, Vardy and DIA… Bridge to far!

  7. Andrew says:

    Very Wrong To Take Gavin Lerena Off Rainbow Bridge. Think The Connections Are Sore Losers. Both Runs To Vardy Was The Closest He Will Get To Vardy. Rainbow Bridge Will Not Win The Met.

  8. Mark Wessels says:

    Put both races in perspective, Vardy was prepped to perfection, the pace of both races suite the horse to a tee, he showed what a champion he has become so deserves his wins, DIA not the same horse at this stage so has a massive hurdle to clear to get back to his best.
    Hawwaam was poorly ridden by Anton but most of the field did suffer that day so put a line as MDK himself said.
    For me Hawwaam becomes another horse when he goes over 2000 as he runs them all into the ground so barring any problems should destroy this field at his best, his run that he was beaten by National Park was a day no horses came from far back that day and he came from a long way back in last to finish second shows he is different league.
    Rainbow Bridge with Gavin did everything perfect in the July but Do It Again was different class to win as he did. Could see horse was not quite at best in Green Point but ran well and not for being hampered, would have run second to Vardy, strange they never objected. Queens plate at the start the horse must have run his race as the horse was burning energy like mad the way Rainbow Bridge was on his toes virtually running his race thorn, Gavin did the right thing getting off him to try relax the horse so put in perspective fro my point of view and just my opinion, the horse ran a blinder, see how poor both MDK horses ran, I rest my case for Rainbow Bridge’s run.
    Every person has their favourite jockeys and they all make their mistakes which is normal. At the end of the day they are animals and cannot say how they feel on any given day.
    I can only hope the Met will be run true that we can see who the real champ is and as for Eric Sands, he is the trainer so it is his choice but he must live with his decisions, right or wrong.

  9. INNOCENT says:

    Well my question is what will Lerena do differently this time Eric is right by jocking him off sometimes change can be good

  10. Rudy Moodley says:

    Thats a bit harsh.Gavin is a great rider.However, Eric wants the best out of Rainbow Bridge.If he feels that a world reknowned jockey like Moore can do it, lets give Eric the benefit of the doubt.

  11. Frankie says:

    Frankie Zackey…Eric Sands are you for real,, it’s a absolute disgrace what you guy’s have done to Gavin… Eric you guy’s used Gavin to do your dirty work prepping RB for the Met sis on you,, you made no secret in your interviews that the Mile is too short for RB and that he’s mission is the Met,,do you honestly believe that Ryan Moore will be a better option for RB knowing that the race is only 2 weeks away think again,,, for your sake i hope Ryan managers to sit on RB at least twice before the Met…Gavin to me was the best option without a doubt the man has done absolutely nothing wrong to date,, no no no there’s much more to this that’s for sure I’ll love to know what it’s costing Mr Rattray to get Moore over 300k plus the place cheque,, but then again 300k is small change.. it takes 2 to tango if I’m not mistaken,, now that I’m piecing the puzzle together I find it very difficult only to blame Eric…Make no mistake Ryan Moore is certainly one of the best around so it will be nice to see him in action again…I’ve made no secret that Do it Again is the better of the 2 horses ages ago so no disrespect to Eric or Mr Rattray but you guys will be running for minor positions…Gavin if you think about it’s not the worst result for you after all we all know that HAWWAAM will win so why bitch about a ride knowing you can’t beat the Champ…Anyway Gavin let’s hope this is a lesson well learnt for next time…If Eric or Mr Rattray ever need your service’s don’t be shy to ask for a service fee upfront i suggest pounds would be about the right currency to ask for

  12. Satish says:

    Sad day for SA racing that a Jockey is jocked off in favor an international rider. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with Gavin. He rides top horses for top stables and delvers.
    Sometimes horses don’t perform well. We must learn to accept that.
    If RM does not win the Met on RB, then what next for RB.

  13. Nico Botha says:

    I am not a fan of Gavin simply because he is not this great jock that everybody thinks.Putting that aside it is no wonder that our local jocks and other sportsmen seek their fortune overseas,because the word loyalty does not exist in South Africa. It seems that the trainers have no confidence in our boys.
    It is really disgusting that our jockeys whovdoes all the hard work is sidelined for someone who has a reputation to be so “great”.
    I think it is a slap in the face of Gavin to be taken off this ride.
    Well , let us then see how great this overseas jock is.
    What everybody does not take into account is that a race like this everything can happen as the best horses compete and their is no certainty in horseracing.If a horse does not want to run on a day their is nothing you can do even if youvput 2 jocks on its back.
    I wish jockey Moore the best.

  14. MAC says:

    Are there going to be more drama at the start of the race for more excuses for Hawwaam only time will tell. My fav jockey Ryan Moore on board but Gavin will do better as he understands RB. Goodluck to all

  15. Jacobus Kotze says:

    Should the horse not crack it in the Met, will Eric eat humble pie and ask Gavin if he wants to ride the horse again, after all and as per the owner, he is the one making the decisions

  16. Ashley says:

    Bad decision we got good jockeys in sa used them an give them hope I wish rb don’t hit the top 4

  17. gavin says:

    very stiff on gav … ryan is a great jock.. the owner has the right to put whoever he wants on his horse .i told my trainer not to put anton marcus on my horse and it backfired . we live and learn..

  18. Pops says:

    Mentioning loyalty.How loyal was Marcus when he took the ride on Rainbow Bridge in the 2019 Met only if he could ride him in the July.The trainer and connections agreed.
    And then Hawwaam came along.And he must have thought he had a better chance of winning the July on Hawwaam. What loyalty did he show when he took the ride on Hawwaam. The trainer and connections of Rainbow Bridge were stunned.
    But then Karma kicked in and when know what happened with Hawwaam’s run in the July.

  19. Pops says:

    Frankie,Frankie cannot find where you called Mike De Kock names when he bumped Gavin off Hawwaam to give the ride in the July to Marcus.

  20. Raj says:

    From all the above comments I admire one. EVEN THE BEST HORSE CANNOT TELL YOU HIW ITS FEELING ON THAT RACE DAY. IT DIESNT UNDERSTAND THAT THE RACE IS WORTH R 2,3 or 5 million. I say RESPECT the Horse n Jockey. Our jockeys do all the “dirty” work for a jockey from abroad to get the ride. Y doesn’t Eric or Rattray hire him permanently. I love HORSE racing but this sort of decisions will definitely make me feel differently in the future. I think all the top five horses mentioned have equally great chances of winning so good luck to the trainers n owners on race day. Gavin Lerena sir “take it with a pinch of salt; Dont worry about the big one, just give us a hint on the other races.

  21. Pops says:

    Ashley and others when an Australian jockey flew into the country to take the ride on Made to Conquer in the 2018 July everyone was celebrating.
    Yes an Australian jockey.
    Now an English jockey is flying in there is the problem.

  22. Rudy Moodley says:

    Great response Pops.agree with you.How can SA jocks improve if you dont race with the best in the world?

  23. Pops says:

    OK Cecil,before you come after me,we know the name of THAT Australian jockey.

  24. Avril L says:

    After all is said and done IT IS a bitter pill to swallow. Decisions have been made and declarations done. Gavin must move on and not be shy to claim for all his expenses for flights and accommodation for gallops etc. His theme song is THAT’S LIFE … riding high in April shot down in May .. each time I find myself flat on my face I pick myself up and get back in the race ….AND THAT HE WILL DO !! because he is a professional through and through whether you’re a fan of his or not.

    1. Editor says:

      Well said, Avril
      Great song

  25. Maddox says:

    Everybody is entitled to his/her opinion which are like a. .holes, everybody had one or is one. When all is said and done it’s the owner and trainers decision what to do. So whatever you commentors think is irrelevant.

  26. Michael Jacobs says:

    Gavin is a very good jockey, however he did not shine on Rainbow Bridge in both rides this term. I have never seen Rainbow Bridge fighting it out with the pacemaker in the beginning of a race! Admittedly the pacemaker in the LQP was a joke, and did not do his job, until only the bend, which was too late. That’s why i think Vardy won’t win the Met. The slow first 3rd of the race suited the son of Var, and then in the straight he sprinted away from them. Why did Gavin take on the pacemaker?

    The connections have every right to select the jockey of their choice. They have been badly let down by jockeys with Rainbow Bridge, so you can’t blame them for this reaction. Anton Marcus and Bernard Fayd’herbe are entirely to blame for this loss of confidence in SA jockeys by the connections.

    Despite this controversy, the Met is wide open and its not as if Rainbow Bridge was a dead cert, he is a trier likeall the rest, and if the connections want to try something different, who are we to question them?

  27. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Never Pops.. I was so hoping Gavin had another ride at least.RB won last year, this time I will be very surprised if he’s in the Top 2 with the English Jack, at a Cost.

    I reckon Tarry will have a Good Horse for Gavin for The July, or Gavin back on RB to win it ? I have learnt long ago, very little loyalty in this game. Gavin, very mature guy, he’ll move on, without gooiing his toys…

    Have a Good Day…👍

    Jeff Lloyd the Aussie 😂

  28. Brian says:

    Think of the horses that had to run against Empress Club. They ran for second. No option.
    Spanish Galliard, the bridesmaid until Empress was out of the July

    I think the trainer’s rates”bridge better than those who beat him. He is certainly entitled to believe that and so he should, that’s what he’s paid to do
    Try his best time and time again

    I don’t know that in changing jockeys he has the answer. He is however entitled to use his own perogative in that regard. It seems his timing is somewhat questionable and to blame the jockey, which is clearly what he is doing, is very wrong.

    Maybe he should review his own methods of preparing the horse

  29. Cecil Pienaar says:

    English Jock 😂

    Avril L 👍

    Have a Good Day all, we have a MSC ship to catch from CT to Dbn 🚢

  30. DavidS says:

    We are all entitled to our opinion but some of the comments are rather personal , unjustified and hence disappointing. Eric made the call and win or lose he will live with the consequences. If RB wins it will be hailed a brilliant call, if he gets beat he will be vilified. Cowboys don’t cry

  31. Pops says:

    If Mike De Kock and the owner had decided to bring Jim Crowley over to ride Hawwaam you can imagine the comments.
    Mike is a master he knows his trade.What a great move from the maestro.Mike will only do what is best for the horse.
    You can bet your bottom dollar that Lerena being the Pro and gentleman he is he will sit Moore down and give him a heads-up about Rainbow Bridge.
    So when Moore gets up on Rainbow Bridge he would know everything about the horse.Thanks to Gavin.

  32. Oscar says:

    For many owners and trainers a horse like Rainbow Bridge comes around once in a life time.
    I do feel bad Gavin was unable to retain the ride.
    However the owners and trainers put a lot of time ,money and effort into the game
    and they have the absolute right to decide what is best for their horse.
    Since Rainbow Bridge is meeting some quality opposition and the veteran trainer believes that the great Ryan Moore willing
    give him every chance from the saddle to clinch the race who are we to argue ?

  33. Verlynn Johnson says:

    Please note that rainbow bridge did place last year in the green point and LQP, the same as this year. So maybe the 1400 and the 1600 is too short for him and prefer a distance 1800m or above. I think Gav should have stayed on him but at the end it was the trainers decision. He is still a huge contender and can still defend his title. Do it again defend his title with 2 different Jockeys.

  34. I am English I’ve been watching UK and South African Racing for 30 plus years if you guys think British Jockeys are Better than South African Jockeys your all been reading fake News, the top 30 40 South African Jockeys are better than the top 30 40 UK jockeys. It’s all about your agent and getting rides on the best conditioned Horses. Most jockeys are very similar …….. the lucky ones get elevated to higher status because they ride better horses for tol Yards…. that’s it…Gavin Lerena is a complete Horsemen, the Track at Kenilworth has suited forward horses for weeks, in a grade 1 you obtain the best possible position. Gavin Lerena got RB the best possible position usually Held up. A group 1 shall not be used as a prep for a longer race . That’s against the rules.

  35. Nicole says:

    All I can say, is in simply bad and unprofessional taste, I love RB but hope he does not even place! Due to the unprofessional behavior! To gavin lerena, you are still simply the best! You always hold the moral high ground unlike so many others!

    You will rise above as always!

  36. Lg says:

    I have watched Gavin on countless replays on the Bridge and he was not as one with the horse as Marcus and Fourie were.
    Maybe it is best for Moore to ride and it would also increase international focus on our racing.

  37. Andre says:

    Eric Sands being the consummate gentleman I know would have his reasons and so be it. What a privilege to have and witness Ryan Moore riding in the flesh !? We in SA racing can do with all the exposure we can get and to this, thanks Eric and Mr Rattray for thinking of us as well. I hope Ryan can add another continent to his G1 CV.

  38. Dino says:

    To Nicole. Please don’t blame the horse because Gavin was taken off. He is a brilliant animal and I hope he can bring it home again this year and create a rainbow bridge to his late owner.To have Ryan Moore is a priveledge.

  39. INNOCENT says:

    To me there will be a lot of unlucky stories in this race I hope there will be genuine pace

  40. Logan says:

    Yes the owner and trainer have every right to do what is best for the horse. i read that Eric Sands was not happy with the way Gavin rode RB the last two times. Eric should have taken Gavin off the horse the moment he jumped off after LQP. Why wait until he found a top jockey and disrespect Gavin. Gavin is one of the best and I do believe that he is unselfish and will give Ryan Moore the heads up about RB. looking forward to the big one.

  41. Pravin says:

    Gavin is a good jock. Respect.
    Rainbow Bridge is just one of the 14 horses in the Met. Been goal shy lately i.e. doesn’t like to meet the finish line first. So what’s all the hype about RB and RM. Remember 13 other runners have a chance and of the 13 one will win.

  42. Raj says:

    Just feel for Gav, all the best to all concerned for the Met

  43. Barry Dunnett says:

    No disrespect to Gavin at all as his accomplishments speak for themselves.

    An interesting point on Ryan: the Australians underscored his ability in the Melbourne Cup a year ago, being a jockey unfamiliar with the Australian way of racing, unfamiliar with the horse, unfamiliar with the track. He made them eat his dust. An extremely talented rider.

    It seems that all the focus has been on the jockeys: the real issue is, will the horse be at his peak on the day and will the race be run to suit?

  44. Gary Grant says:

    Hi editor , why was my comment taken off this page . Cant find it . Thanks

    1. karel says:

      … because you are an insulting anonymous poster.

  45. Garrick Bergh says:


  46. Garrick Bergh says:

    I’m not sure why I am weighing in on this conversation but here goes anyway :

    If an owner trusts a trainer sufficiently to prepare a horse then it follows that the trainer should also be trusted with regard to the rider selection. Alternatively there is nothing to stop an owner giving his/her opinion regarding rider engagements. If no consensus can be reached the owner can move the horse to another trainer. Wev’e seen that happen often enough!

    In this instance the trainer felt (whether rightly or wrongly) that the rider had underperformed in TWO successive races. So the jockey was, in fact, given a second chance whereafter the trainer elected to seek out another rider.

    I see no evidence of Lerena having been labelled as a bad jockey or personally attacked. Consequently I am not sure why this jockey change has resulted in so many anguished outpourings. Winning Grade 1 races makes or breaks all of the connections so, unfortunately, near misses and/or sub par rides often result in brutal and absolute responses.

    Only one poster refers to the reality that jockeys themselves all too often abandon horses ( to whom they have professed eternal love in the winners’ enclosure! ) when they perceive a better ride in the offing. No tears are shed on behalf of the owner and trainer when this happens.

    I am reminded of the following : You are as good as your last ride. In the sole opinion of Rainbow Bridge’s trainer the last TWO rides fell short of expectations. A third sub par ride might have begged the thought : Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome.

  47. Dean Moodley says:

    Gavin is a top horsemen .his humble and very honest person .rainbow bridge over races .the horse is tired .you cant hold a jockey responsible if a horse exhauted .theres so much rainbow bridge can do .Ryan Moore is gonna break this beautiful animal and his never br the same anymore.its gonna be very hard for Vardy to get beaten his a Vardy in the Making .all punters have to do is select whos running behind him.

  48. Sal says:

    Hawwaam will hit another July on us and Rainbow bridge will win

  49. DavidS says:

    Well Moore certainly didnt improve RB one bit, RB got beat 0.05 by One World in the Queens plate and beaten 0.20 in the Met which was RB preferred distance so factually speaking RB went slightly backwards,

  50. DAMOVA says:

    I believe the best horse one – look back on his form – he did not put a foot wrong but we still got 12/1!!

  51. DAMOVA says:

    AND GAVIN also did not put a foot wrong – WE must support our riders!!!!

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