Picture: GETTY IMAGES/IAN FORSYTH
Picture: GETTY IMAGES/IAN FORSYTH

It was not the 35th birthday jockey Gavin Lerena had in mind. Instead of the likelihood of riding several winners at the Vaal on Thursday, he will have to sit out the meeting due to the National Horseracing Authority (NHA) rules regarding movement between provinces.

Vee Moodley, CEO of the NHA, has confirmed that — due to coronavirus — jockeys may only ride in one province for the month of July.

After a win at the Vaal on Tuesday, Lerena was asked about his plans. He said: “I'll ride here [Vaal] on Thursday — my birthday — and move on to Durban on Friday.”

It is a no-brainer that Lerena — fourth in last season’s jockeys log with 172 winners — will opt for the next four weeks in KwaZulu-Natal.

At Scottsville on Saturday, Lerena is due to partner Sean Tarry’s talented filly Celtic Sea in the SA Fillies Sprint, as well as the promising Gauteng raider Rapid Fire in the grade 1 Allan Robertson.

Celtic Sea looks set for an intriguing clash with Run Fox Run, the mount of Anton Marcus, with True To Life and Pretty Young Thing both possessing each-way chances.

This column had earmarked four winners for Lerena at Thursday's meeting — two of them for trainer Fabian Habib, who has his team in good form after racing’s recent resumption.

Daphne Du Maurier (fourth race) and Our Man In Havana (sixth) look Habib’s best runners at the meeting and the first-named is likely to be sent off favourite in the first leg of the Pick Six.

Our Man In Havana is overdue a visit to the No 1 box as he has been placed in each of his last three outings. His rivals include The Rising Legend, On My Mind and Christopher Robin.

Trained by St John Gray — who won last Saturday’s grade 1 Empress Club Stakes with Ronnie’s Candy — Christopher Robin has also done his part for the stable, winning two of his last three starts.

Last weekend was also a memorable one for another Gauteng trainer Joe Soma, who saddled his star three-year-old Gotthegreenlight to win the Daily News 2000 at Hollywoodbets Greyville. The win has earned the colt an 8-1 quote for the Vodacom Durban July on the 25th of the month.

Soma had booked Lerena for African Adventure in the fifth race and his runner — second over 1,800m last time out — has a bright chance providing he can beat recent winner Lord Melbourne.

Another good Lerena ride would have been Geoff Woodruff's runner Therevada in the final event on the card. This looks a modest contest in which Liberado, Trend Master and Top Line rate the dangers.

Yet another runner Lerena will have fancied to win on is Paul Peter’s representative Elusive Force, who could defy top weight of 61kg in the seventh race. Peter is another trainer churning out the winners and his top-class filly Summer Pudding rose to the big occasion once again at Greyville last Sunday.

Kapama, Miss Khalifa and Tarry’s runner Fortuna Doro look Elusive Force’s principal opponents in another weak contest.

Phumelela Gaming & Leisure and the Racing Association announced on Wednesday that owners and their guests will be allowed to attend race meetings in Gauteng from July 2. This follows the easing of level 3 Covid-19 restrictions. However, the attendance is subject to various conditions, including only one owner — or their representative — being allowed to lead in the winner.

VAAL SELECTIONS

1st Race: (8) City Deep (1) Petersham (5) Vetri Vel (4) Numerical

2nd Race: (1) Arran (2) Racing Man (3) Sunburst (13) Nicaragua

3rd Race: (1) Caerphilly (2) Incognito (4) Afriel (5) Arabella Queen

4th Race: (1) Daphne Du Maurier (9) Venusflytrap (13) Sacred Lotus (2) Double Hearts

5th Race: (6) African Adventure (4) Lord Melbourne (11) Poppycock (2) Mazari

6th Race: (5) Our Man In Havana (1) The Rising Legend (2) Christopher Robin (6) On My Mind

7th Race: (1) Elusive Force (7) Fortuna Doro (8) Kapama (11) Miss Khalifa

8th Race: (1) Written In Stone (2) Louvain (3) Waqaas (4) Ideal Day

9th Race: (4) Theravada (3) Liberado (1) Trend Master (2) Top Line

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