Lerena Unimpressed With Habib – Magner’s Melech A Deserved Winner

Incident mars highly anticipated contest

Tony Peter’s top-class 3yo Main Defender suffered what appeared to be a dreadful bit of bad luck after coming under pressure in the closing stages of a race that he was expected to win at Turffontein on Thursday.

Winning rider Gavin Lerena labelled Habib’s move in the closing stages on Main Defender ‘unecessary’, and suggested that his colleague had changed his stick hands and ridden for him.

We definitely haven’t heard the last of this allegation, but back to the race that the Sporting Post suggested on Wednesday would be the contest of the week.

South Africa’s current joint second highest-rated 3yo, Main Defender started a 6-10 favourite to win the R175 000 Betway Pinnacle Stakes contested over the 1200m Turffontein inside course.

Jumping smartly from an 11 draw, Main Defender stalked Flowerbomb and Gobsmacked into the straight and then cruised up looking a likely winner.

The JC Photos Team captured this dramatic moment as the top class Main Defender (Calvin Habib) stumbles, with the eventual winner Melech (Gavin Lerena) ranging up on his inside

But after Calvin Habib changed whip hands inside the final 250m, the gelding lugged inwards and bumped Melech (25-2), before appearing to become unbalanced and then stepping awkwardly after stumbling badly.

Despite the incident, the 25-2 Melech always looked to be going better and finished with a sustained burst, frankly always appearing to have the Peter star’s measure inside the distance.

With the brave Main Defender regaining his composure and recovering, the door was opened for Quantum Theory (33-1) to add insult to injury for the favourite’s connections, and grab the second cheque, a half length ahead of the favourite.

Mike de Kock’s new stallion import Mujbar (20-1) was never in the hunt and found it too short, as his trainer predicted, to finish just over 8 lengths off the winner.

Breeders Duncan and Natasha Barry were shouting the house down at their beautiful Robertson farm as the Riverton bred Melech registered his 6th career win with 2 places from 10 starts for stakes of R511 125.  Melech, who races in the familiar green and yellow strip of longstanding owner John Finalyson, was a R220 000 buy from the 2021 November Two Year Old Sale

A 4yo gelded son of Klawervlei kingpin William Longsword (Captain Al), Melech is out of the Greys In mare, Pippi, who also produced the six time winning Captain Oupie (Captain Of All) and two-time winner Anotherdayinafrica (Pomodoro).

A Main Defender source confirmed that they were thrilled that their champion appeared to be fine immediately after the race. That’s good news as he could be an interesting customer down Durban way in the next few months!

Watch the replay here:


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