where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2024-02-15 21:04:44  
Habib, Lerena Clash in Main Defender Defeat

Gavin Lerena had some choice words for Calvin Habib after the later failed to ensure that he kept his mount on a straight course in the final stages of a highly charged Pinnacle Stakes at Turffontein on Thursday.

Lerena called the move 'unnecessary' in a post race interview and didn't look pleased with his rival after Main Defender leaned in badly into Melech, the Lerena ride for Roy Magner.

The rivalry between the two stems back to the days when Calvin Habib was jocked off Sandringham Summit after he lost by a nose to the self same, Main Defender in the Graham Beck Stakes - a ding ding tussle to the wire. Lerena replaced Habib on Sandringham Summit and duly lost his next race aboard the colt only to be castigated by the racing public for what many deemed a 'poor' ride. That was clarified in an interview done with SAHorseracing.COM and the public was naturally upset with the 4/10 shot getting beat.

Sandringham Summit came back with Lerena onboard to win the Gauteng Guineas in style at his next start after missing a clash with Main Defender due to a postponed fixture. Habib, in the meantime, joined the Tony Peter stable as retained jockey and rode Main Defender to victory the next time out. The Musical chairs were fascinating to the public. Ironically in that same race, Barberesco ran second to Main Defender with Lerena onboard the challenger - that was the Got The Greenlight Stakes. So the ding dong between the two continued.

The latest episode was at Turffontein today with Main Defender leading at the time but under pressure, then drifted badly into an incoming Melech with Lerena onboard. Main Defender stumbled as a result and Melech also slipped after the line.

Main Defender was reported fine afterwards by the vet but Lerena was none too pleased.. MAIN Defender was prepping for the Horse Chestnut Stakes Gr1 over the Mile with this Sprint contest but still had no right to lose with his huge reputation.

It's been a fascinating set of events for the two and a brilliant rivalry set up for the public to digest. The belief by many astute punters is that the severe duck right by Main Defender was almost unavoidable at that stage of the race but the stipes did open an enquiry.

4RACING Image with Lerena looking back at a stumbling Main Defender 

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