Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 18 January 2020

Lerena double delivers victory in Shergar Cup

Kenichi Ikezoe (left), Silvestre De Sousa and Gavin Lerena. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.
Kenichi Ikezoe (left), Silvestre De Sousa and Gavin Lerena. Photo: Nigel French/PA Wire.

Marcus Armytage

The adrenaline of a comeback victory in yesterday's Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup rewarded Hayley Turner for all the hard work she put in to take out a licence especially for the occasion - but she insisted it was not enough to persuade her to make a full-time comeback.

Turner cruised to the front two out on the Harry Dunlop-trained grey Early Morning in the Mile but then, in the last hundred yards, had to hang on by a fast diminishing half-length as four rivals bore down on her.

There is no greater cheerleader for the Shergar Cup than Turner. "It's so nice to do it here," she said. "Coming back for this was the easiest decision ever - I had kept fit for vain reasons as much as anything but I stepped it up a bit. If every day was like this I would make a comeback but it's not. It's the day-to-day grind that puts me off."

But her efforts were not enough for the Girls' team of Emma-Jayne Wilson, Josephine Gordon and herself to retain the team title. That went to the Rest of the World, who owed victory in British racing's only team event to the 285-1 double by the South African champion Gavin Lerena, although he was pipped to the Silver Saddle by Frenchman Thierry Jarnet, who also struck twice.

It has been a while since Mouse Roberts and Basil Marcus, two crack South African jockeys, plied their trade in Britain, but Lerena, 31, would be well up to their standard if he were to ever give it a whirl and, to some extent, he had already proved himself world class when winning the International Jockeys' Challenge in Hong Kong last December.

He impressed with his winning ride on 25-1 shot Arch Villain, an out-and-out galloper, in the Stayers Handicap and then he followed up on Danehill Kodiac in the Classic.

With no pace in the Stayers, he made the running until Kenichi Ikezoe pushed on past Sea of Heaven. From two out, however, Arch Villain was back in a duel with Sea of Heaven and it was Lerena's strength that got him home by a neck. "It's an amazing feeling to have my first ride at Ascot and I'm on a winner," said Lerena. "I'd love to come back again one day if ever the right opportunity arose."


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