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JOCKEY GAVIN LERENA




Gavin Lerena.



Name:
Gavin Juan Lerena.

Date and city of birth: 2 July 1985 (31) in Johannesburg.

Family: Married to Vicky (nee Badenhorst). We have a 2½-year-old son Ashton and she has a daughter Emily (13). My father is former jockey Tex Lerena and mother Avril has worked for a German pumps and valves company for nearly three decades. My sister Kim has two children and works for a prominent medical aid company.

Tell us about your school days. Kim and Mom did all my homework and projects because I was never interested. I loved playing sport and had lots of friends. I had a really good time.

How did you get into horseracing? It was my dream from a toddler. It was a tough road, though. I applied to the academy a couple of times but they said I’d grow too big. One year my parents went to Umhlanga and saw the equestrian side of the academy was quite nice. They knew my heart wasn’t in school so asked if I’d like to join the equestrian side. I packed my bags and was off the next week! I didn’t take much interest in my equestrian work so was always in trouble. I rushed through my tasks there to ride work for trainers and spend time with the apprentices. Patrick Salvage then became headmaster. He knew how much I wanted to become a jockey and suggested I transfer across believing, maybe, I could ride for two or three years before becoming too heavy. I’ve never looked back.

When were you licensed? I was 17 when I went to the academy and transferred across about a year later, in 2002. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long before I started raceriding.

How many races have you ridden in? 10,975 in South Africa and Zimbabwe. I’ve also ridden in China, Dubai, England, Hong Kong and Mauritius and had a handful of rides in Macau.

How many winners have you had? 1,499 in South Africa and Zimbabwe; five in Hong Kong; two in Mauritius; I won the inaugural race in China and two races in England where I represented the Rest Of The World team at the Shergar Cup last year.

Tell us about your first ride. It was on Atlantic Charter for Saeed Mohideen in a work riders’ race at Scottsville in May 2002. It came as a shock to Mom and Dad because he was a reserve runner who got into the race. I called Mr Mohideen for the ride and to discuss the horse. It was like a bad dream for dad when I said, “Put foot, I’m riding in the first race”. I was so excited. What a rush! We got to the finish line in one piece, much to Dad’s relief, and I was absolutely exhausted but in awe. It was an amazing experience. I had one more race against work riders - in June - before my first ride as a licensed apprentice in October 2002 at Scottsville. That was on Des Egdes-trained Status Symbol. I finished 10th on my first three rides. I was more aware of what was happening around me on Status Symbol, more comfortable with the speed and adrenaline. Riding against professionals for the first time was different, wonderful. My fourth ride was around the turn - which rarely happens with apprentices! Again Dad was nervous, saying it was crazy to be doing it so early. Back then I said he was talking rubbish, that I was ready for it. Now I know I wasn’t but I had a lot of belief in myself.

First winner? A beautiful animal called Waves Of Argosy for Jeff Freedman over 1100m at Clairwood on my ninth ride. Jeff was ultra-confident. Waves Of Argosy had natural gate speed and I just had to point him in the right direction. He also gave me my second win, 11 rides and 23 days later at Greyville. Neither of us had been round Greyville before so I was nervous. But he ended up in front again and won another good race. I thought it was an easy game!

Notable milestones? SA record 283 wins as an apprentice; SA record 42 wins in a calendar month in June 2015; SA champion 2014-15; Zimbabwe champion 2011-12; SA champion apprentice 2004-5, 2005-6 and 2006-7; represented SA in five local international jockeys’ challenges, scoring the most points in 2009; LONGINES International Jockeys’ Challenge winner 2015 in Hong Kong; second in the Shergar Cup at Ascot, England. Eleven Grade 1 wins: SA Classic (Kings Gambit 2008); SA Derby (Kings Gambit 2008 and Pomodoro 2012); Gold Challenge (Dancewiththedevil 2011); Premiers Champion Stakes (Potala Palace 2011); Gold Cup (Aslan 2011); Summer Cup (Dancewiththedevil 2011, Master Sabina 2015 and 2016); Horse Chestnut Stakes (Dancewiththedevil 2011); Cape Derby (Ertijaal 2015).

Best horse you’ve ridden? Kings Gambit for the late Lance Wiid. He was an amazing animal with such a good turn of foot.

Best current horse? I’m freelancing, but lucky to be supported by trainers like Geoff Woodruff and Johan Janse van Vuuren as well some smaller trainers who are very good to me.

Best moment in your life? The day Ashton was born, 1 July 2014.

Are you superstitious? It’s a hard question. There are a few things I won’t do, like get my hair cut or cut my nails on a raceday. It’s a fallacy but I’m not willing to take the chance.

What do you do in your spare time? I play golf. My handicap? Golf, but I play off a 16. And I love spending time with my family.

What music do you like to listen to? I love the golden oldies.

Favourite food? Chocolate, which I gave up for Lent – can’t wait for Easter! And I can enjoy it because I normally have my weight under control, riding at 56kg. If I need to lose a kilogram or two I use detox juices.

Favourite night out? With my family or at a good steak restaurant. I don’t normally drink but when I do, it’s a light beer.

Favourite sport to watch. I don’t watch much sport now. I used to love cricket but the Hansie Cronje incident put me right off.

Do you read? What? My Computaform. I study for every meeting.

Favourite TV programme? I love my TV, especially “Suits” and “The Black List”. Also the crime drama “Peaky Blinders”, a show racing people will relate to.

Best movie you have seen? There have been some good ones, maybe “Fracture” with Anthony Hopkins.

What car do you drive? A BMW 320 diesel

Where would you like to be in five to 10 years time? Riding on the international stage, following the international Group 1 circuit. Name: Gavin Juan Lerena.

Date and city of birth: 2 July 1985 (31) in Johannesburg.

Family: Married to Vicky (nee Badenhorst). We have a 2½-year-old son Ashton and she has a daughter Emily (13). My father is former jockey Tex Lerena and mother Avril has worked for a German pumps and valves company for nearly three decades. My sister Kim has two children and works for a prominent medical aid company.

Tell us about your school days. Kim and Mom did all my homework and projects because I was never interested. I loved playing sport and had lots of friends. I had a really good time.

How did you get into horseracing? It was my dream from a toddler. It was a tough road, though. I applied to the academy a couple of times but they said I’d grow too big. One year my parents went to Umhlanga and saw the equestrian side of the academy was quite nice. They knew my heart wasn’t in school so asked if I’d like to join the equestrian side. I packed my bags and was off the next week! I didn’t take much interest in my equestrian work so was always in trouble. I rushed through my tasks there to ride work for trainers and spend time with the apprentices. Patrick Salvage then became headmaster. He knew how much I wanted to become a jockey and suggested I transfer across believing, maybe, I could ride for two or three years before becoming too heavy. I’ve never looked back.

When were you licensed? I was 17 when I went to the academy and transferred across about a year later, in 2002. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long before I started raceriding.

How many races have you ridden in? 10,975 in South Africa and Zimbabwe. I’ve also ridden in China, Dubai, England, Hong Kong and Mauritius and had a handful of rides in Macau.

How many winners have you had? 1,499 in South Africa and Zimbabwe; five in Hong Kong; two in Mauritius; I won the inaugural race in China and two races in England where I represented the Rest Of The World team at the Shergar Cup last year.

Tell us about your first ride. It was on Atlantic Charter for Saeed Mohideen in a work riders’ race at Scottsville in May 2002. It came as a shock to Mom and Dad because he was a reserve runner who got into the race. I called Mr Mohideen for the ride and to discuss the horse. It was like a bad dream for dad when I said, “Put foot, I’m riding in the first race”. I was so excited. What a rush! We got to the finish line in one piece, much to Dad’s relief, and I was absolutely exhausted but in awe. It was an amazing experience. I had one more race against work riders - in June - before my first ride as a licensed apprentice in October 2002 at Scottsville. That was on Des Egdes-trained Status Symbol. I finished 10th on my first three rides. I was more aware of what was happening around me on Status Symbol, more comfortable with the speed and adrenaline. Riding against professionals for the first time was different, wonderful. My fourth ride was around the turn - which rarely happens with apprentices! Again Dad was nervous, saying it was crazy to be doing it so early. Back then I said he was talking rubbish, that I was ready for it. Now I know I wasn’t but I had a lot of belief in myself.

First winner? A beautiful animal called Waves Of Argosy for Jeff Freedman over 1100m at Clairwood on my ninth ride. Jeff was ultra-confident. Waves Of Argosy had natural gate speed and I just had to point him in the right direction. He also gave me my second win, 11 rides and 23 days later at Greyville. Neither of us had been round Greyville before so I was nervous. But he ended up in front again and won another good race. I thought it was an easy game!

Notable milestones? SA record 283 wins as an apprentice; SA record 42 wins in a calendar month in June 2015; SA champion 2014-15; Zimbabwe champion 2011-12; SA champion apprentice 2004-5, 2005-6 and 2006-7; represented SA in five local international jockeys’ challenges, scoring the most points in 2009; LONGINES International Jockeys’ Challenge winner 2015 in Hong Kong; second in the Shergar Cup at Ascot, England. Eleven Grade 1 wins: SA Classic (Kings Gambit 2008); SA Derby (Kings Gambit 2008 and Pomodoro 2012); Gold Challenge (Dancewiththedevil 2011); Premiers Champion Stakes (Potala Palace 2011); Gold Cup (Aslan 2011); Summer Cup (Dancewiththedevil 2011, Master Sabina 2015 and 2016); Horse Chestnut Stakes (Dancewiththedevil 2011); Cape Derby (Ertijaal 2015).

Best horse you’ve ridden? Kings Gambit for the late Lance Wiid. He was an amazing animal with such a good turn of foot.

Best current horse? I’m freelancing, but lucky to be supported by trainers like Geoff Woodruff and Johan Janse van Vuuren as well some smaller trainers who are very good to me.

Best moment in your life? The day Ashton was born, 1 July 2014.

Are you superstitious? It’s a hard question. There are a few things I won’t do, like get my hair cut or cut my nails on a raceday. It’s a fallacy but I’m not willing to take the chance.

What do you do in your spare time? I play golf. My handicap? Golf, but I play off a 16. And I love spending time with my family.

What music do you like to listen to? I love the golden oldies.

Favourite food? Chocolate, which I gave up for Lent – can’t wait for Easter! And I can enjoy it because I normally have my weight under control, riding at 56kg. If I need to lose a kilogram or two I use detox juices.

Favourite night out? With my family or at a good steak restaurant. I don’t normally drink but when I do, it’s a light beer.

Favourite sport to watch. I don’t watch much sport now. I used to love cricket but the Hansie Cronje incident put me right off.

Do you read? What? My Computaform. I study for every meeting.

Favourite TV programme? I love my TV, especially “Suits” and “The Black List”. Also the crime drama “Peaky Blinders”, a show racing people will relate to.

Best movie you have seen? There have been some good ones, maybe “Fracture” with Anthony Hopkins.

What car do you drive? A BMW 320 diesel

Where would you like to be in five to 10 years time? Riding on the international stage, following the international Group 1 circuit.


 


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