Ler­ena re­sponds to crit­i­cism

Pretoria News - - THE RACEGOER - DAVID THISELTON

CHAM­PI­ONS re­spond well to crit­i­cism, es­pe­cially when they per­ceive it to be un­just, and Gavin Ler­ena proved this at the L'Or­marins Queen’s Plate fes­ti­val over the week­end, emerg­ing as the joint-lead­ing jockey de­spite a lim­ited num­ber of rides.

In a fes­ti­val panel dis­cus­sion last week one of the pan­elists said, “Sadly I don't follow Gavin Ler­ena much in the Cape as his strike rate is pretty poor out­side of Jo’burg.”

Ler­ena re­sponded by hav­ing a one hun­dred per­cent strike rate on Fri­day, boot­ing home the Harold Crawford/Michelle Rix­trained 18-10 favourite Bold Diva in the third race and later romp­ing home in the main race, the Grade 2 Cartier Scep­tre Stakes over 1 200m, on the Sean Tarry-trained cham­pion filly Celtic Sea, who was backed into even money.

On Satur­day Ler­ena had six rides and two win­ners. His first win was aboard the Sean Tarry-trained star Chimichuri Run, who downed fel­low Grade 1-win­ning sprint­ers Pa­cific Trader and Kasimir in a Pin­na­cle event over 1000m where he started 3/1 third favourite.

Ler­ena later won on the Den­nis Drier-trained Cabo De Cruz, who started 11-2 favourite.

He thus had a 50% strike rate over the two days. Ler­ena ded­i­cated his win on Cabo De Cruz, his last ride of the meet­ing, to the critic.

Fourie

Richard Fourie also rode four win­ners over the two days, but had 16 rides.

In the pan­elist's de­fense Ler­ena had never pre­vi­ously en­joyed a par­tic­u­larly high strike rate in Cape Town.

He had not rid­den a win­ner in 12 pre­vi­ous rides this sea­son and his Cape Town strike rate in the 2018/2019 sea­son had been two win­ners in 34 rides for a strike rate of 5.88%.

His strike rate in the 2017/2018 sea­son was 33.33%, one win­ner from three rides.

Ler­ena's last three sea­sons have been blighted with in­jury and ill­ness, mak­ing it tough for him to es­tab­lish re­la­tion­ships with train­ers and horses out­side of his home prov­ince.

How­ever, he did have some suc­cess in Cape Town last decade. In the 2011/2012 sea­son he had an 18.18% strike rate in Cape Town (six win­ners from 33 rides), in 2014/2015, which was his national championsh­ip win­ning sea­son, he had a strike rate 10.7% (three win­ners from 28 rides), and in the 2016/2017 sea­son he had a strike rate of 12% (three win­ners from 25 rides).

Nev­er­the­less, South African sports­men are fa­mous for be­ing at their best when their backs are to the wall and in an in­dus­try which is no­to­ri­ously shy to crit­i­cise the pan­elist might well have in­ad­ver­tently unearthed the way to get the best out of our jock­eys!

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