Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK
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Lyle Hewitson, SA’s newly crowned champion jockey, expects to be on the bench for a further five weeks following a knee injury sustained at the Vaal three weeks ago.

"My knee is getting stronger, I can stretch my leg further every day. I’ve spent time in the hyperbaric chamber, I’ve had ozone sauna therapy and will be starting physiotherapy on Monday," Hewitson said on Thursday.

"I’ve also had plenty of help from massage therapist Shane Rainbird, who uses heat to penetrate all layers of the muscle around my knee. The swelling is down," he said.

Hewitson, the first apprentice to win the SA title in 50 years, will be receiving the coveted jockey trophy at the Equus Awards Banquet next week, with a second trophy for champion apprentice.

Also on the mend is former champion jockey Gavin Lerena, who sustained a broken collarbone and serious shoulder injuries in a fall in April. Lerena also suffered concussion and has had a frustrating road to recovery, but he rode two horses in exercise gallops this week. His father, Tex Lerena, commented: "Gavin is keen to get stronger and break through the pain barrier."

Richard Fourie, the Cape’s leading jockey, has indicated he will be a serious contender to wrest the title away from Hewitson in the 2018-19 season. Fourie has set his sights on 200 winners, which looks achievable since he is back as preferred rider to champion trainer Justin Snaith. He rode six winners for the stable in the first week of the new term.

Another former champion, S’Manga Khumala, has gained from Hewitson’s absence by getting the choice mounts from the stable of Sean Tarry.

The combination is set for a good day at Turffontein on Saturday with In The Dance (race 4) and Vartanium (race 7) likely to be strong contenders.

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