When it comes to big sporting events, the coach or trainer is happy to rely on experience. Take last Sunday’s Super Bowl for example — if Tom Brady had not been in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers team, chances are they might not have won.

It is the same story in racing. When it comes to the graded races, trainers feel confident relying on a jockey who has “been there, done that”.

One such rider is 35-year-old Gavin Lerena who has ridden — and won on — four of the nine runners in Saturday’s WSB Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein.

Lerena is a guy to have on your side when having a punt. His mounts rarely go missing. At the Vaal last Tuesday, Mill Queen and Rio’s Winter were favourites for their respective races — no mistakes from the man on top.

So what Lerena has to say about his Guineas mount, Catch TwentyTwo, will delight the gelding’s trainer, Paul Peter.

“I make him the horse to beat. He’s maturing all the time and getting stronger with every run,” he said.

He has won on both Second Base and Copper Mountain, so what about their chances? “With Copper Mountain it’s a question of whether he stays a mile, and Second Base may find the 1,600m too short,” Lerena said.

So let’s look at the six runners who could take the winner’s cheque of R315,000.

Malmoos: Went into the Cape Guineas unbeaten but failed to shape from a wide draw and finished ninth. Mike de Kock is happy with the colt since his return so a big run looks on the cards.

Mount Pleasant: Remarkably similar to his stablemate — went into the Dingaans unbeaten but beat only four home. His trainer feels he might be a sprinter and the Aussie-bred colt has eased in the market. His merit-rating is 13 points higher than Malmoos.

Catch TwentyTwo: He was beaten by six lengths by Mount Pleasant on debut and two lengths by Malmoos in the Graham Beck Stakes last October. But the Paul Peter inmate has got better with every run and boasts wins in the Dingaans and Tony Ruffel Stakes. He beat Copper Mountain by two lengths in the latter race.

Copper Mountain: Could be the pick of Johan Janse van Vuuren’s duo — he beat Second Base by five lengths in September. Held by Catch TwentyTwo on Tony Ruffel form but does have a good barrier.

Second Base: He has done his connections proud with five wins from six starts and deserves his chance in grade 2 company. However, this is a different kettle of fish than taking on the likes of Nartjie and Tyron’s Express, and the son of Gimmethegreenlight may have to settle for a minor place.

Eliud: One has to love Candice Dawson’s quote about her big race runner in Winning Form. She said: “Eliud is a Futura ‘bomb’. He took a while to taxi down the runway, but has now taken off!”

A week ago this column voiced the opinion that the Dawson inmate could be the “surprise package” in the race. He finished fourth in the Tony Ruffel (backed down to 5-1), but that race was over 1,400m and the lightly-raced son of Futura had previously cruised home by five lengths over 1,600m.

Now reverting to 1,600m, in-form S’manga Khumalo rides him for the first time and this writer is happy with an ante-post voucher taken at nomination of 23-4 a place (four places).

Bingwa, Kingsley’s Heart and Namib Desert are outsiders in the betting and look unlikely to be involved for the winner’s purse.

If you forgive his flop behind Russian Rock in the Cape Guineas, Malmoos has to go close from pole position if he is back to the form he showed in the Graham Beck Stakes.

Still, it is a race to tread warily from a betting point of view and the recommendation is a quartet double floating Malmoos and Eliud with Catch Twenty-Two, Mount Pleasant, Copper Mountain and Second Base.

There is another round of War Of Athena versus Anything Goes in the Wilgerbosdrift Fillies Guineas, the third time they have clashed this term.

In an interview with Turftalk last Monday, trainer Paul Matchett remained bullish about War Of Athena. He said: “I would have liked to have raced on Saturday as she’s fit and well. But it doesn’t really make any difference. She’s a natural athlete and looks after herself in work.”

Anything Goes had the misfortune to suffer a slipped saddle in her defeat in the Three Troikas so the judge may be required here.


1st Race: No Selection

2nd Race: (10) Lee Express (5) Differentiate (2) Zodiac Princess (4) Cosmic Ray

3rd Race: (1) Smuts (2) Major Winter (9) Dance Partner (3) Light Without

4th Race: (4) Anna Capri (2) Rapid Fire (1) Valyrian King (5) Sweet Sensation

5th Race: (7) Master Supreme (3) Nimcha (9) Apollo Robbins (5) Barak

6th Race: (2) War Of Athena (1) Anything Goes (4) Miss Elegance (5) Caralluma

7th Race: (3) Malmoos (2) Catch TwentyTwo (1) Mount Pleasant (7) Eliud

8th Race: (9) Winter Smoke (5) Winter Stories (3) Bold Ransom (2) True To Life

9th Race: (1) Zimbaba (2) Celestial Love (3) Toto (4) Bella Black

10th Race: (12) Putontheredlight (3) ExpressfromtheUS (2) Chijmes (6) Whorly Whorly


(Supplied by bookmaker Lance Michel)

5-2 Catch TwentyTwo, Malmoos

3-1 Mount Pleasant

5-1 Second Base

12-1 Copper Mountain

14-1 Eliud

20-1 Bingwa

25-1 Kingsley's Heart

33-1 Namib Desert

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