No weighty decision to make for trainer Mike de Kock with jockey Gavin Lerena

South African jockey has come to Dubai to be reunited with Pylon, who he rode three times to success in South Africa.
Sanshaawes , right, with jockey Christophe Soumillon aboard, will be ridden by Gavin Lerena for the Jebel Hatta. Sarah Dea / The National
Sanshaawes , right, with jockey Christophe Soumillon aboard, will be ridden by Gavin Lerena for the Jebel Hatta. Sarah Dea / The National

Leading South African jockey Gavin Lerena has ensured he can make the weight on Mike de Kock’s crack sprinter Via Africa as he looks to make his Dubai debut a winning one on Meydan’s lucrative Super Saturday card this weekend.

Lerena is very much in the hunt for his first jockeys’ championship in South Africa, and is set to arrive in Dubai on Wednesday night in preparation for acquainting himself with the surrounds of Meydan Racecourse on Thursday.

Via Africa won three Grade 1 races in South Africa before the five-year-old bay mare shipped to Dubai for this season.

She started as favourite for the Computaform Sprint, South Africa’s premier 1,000-metre Group 1 dash, both in 2013 and 2014 but finished second on both occasions.

On her final start in South Africa in May last year she won a Grade 1 sprint for fillies and makes her bow in the fiercely competitive Group 3 Meydan Sprint.

Lerena will partner Via Africa at Meydan for a morning canter tomorrow and will do so again on Friday. Via Africa will is burdened with 55kgs, which is the borderline of Lerena’s capabilities.

“I can do the weight when I properly keep my eye on it,” the 29-year-old jockey said from South Africa. “I need to start about five to seven days in advance, but it should be no problem.”

Lerena has come to Dubai to be reunited with Pylon, who he rode three times to success in South Africa and lines up in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar, a prep race for the Godolphin Mile. He will also ride Sanshaawes, one of six horses running for De Kock in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta.

Pylon has raced 12 times on sand in South Africa, and won eight of those starts with three placings over similar distances to the 1,600m of the Burj Nahaar.

“He is a great, big horse, and one of the highest-rated dirt horses in South Africa,” Lerena said. “I’m looking forward to riding him and I’m thankful Mike also gave me the other rides.”

In France, Dolniya and Flintshire warmed up for the Dubai Sheema Classic when they were the first two home in the Prix Darshaan, a Conditions race staged on Chantilly’s all-weather surface over just short of 2,000m.

Christophe Soumillon was aboard Dolniya, and got first run on Flintshire’s Maxime Guyon to secure the victory by a neck.

Guyon got it right later on in the afternoon, when he guided Solow to success in the Prix Montjeu, an all-weather Conditions race over 1,600m.

Trainer Freddy Head confirmed afterwards that Solow will head to Dubai to contest the Dubai Turf on March 28.

sports@thenational.ae

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Published: March 3, 2015 04:00 AM

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