Do It Again, described by Justin Snaith a week ago as no better than 50:50 to make the Sun Met, has made remarkable improvement and now looks like running in Saturday week’s Kenilworth highlight.
But this piece of good news has been almost totally overshadowed by the decision to jock off Gavin Lerena from last year’s winner Rainbow Bridge and fly in superstar Ryan Moore. When this broke on Saturday afternoon it was widely assumed that the horse’s owner Mike Rattray had been responsible for switching jockeys.
But Rattray explained yesterday: “I didn’t do anything. I employ my trainer to train my horses and he must make the decisions. Ryan Moore was his recommendation and I told him ‘Whatever you decide – it’s your business.’“
Sadly Rattray, whose life’s mission is to win the Durban July, does not expect to make the Met. The 87-year-old is having problems with his spine and is under doctor’s orders to take it easy.
Former champion Lerena was first booked for Rainbow Bridge when Anton Marcus, who had won the Met on him, preferred to ride Hawwaam in the Vodacom Durban July. Lerena was beaten less than half a length by Do It Again in the big one. This season Lerena has ridden the five-year-old to finish third in both the WSB Green Point and the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
Eric Sands, explaining the background to the recommendation to replace Lerena, said yesterday that he had not been entirely happy with the way his horse had been ridden in his two races this season.
The decision to get a new jockey was a hard one to take, particularly as he has known Gavin and his father for decades – “But at the end of the day it was about making the right decision for the horse and so I told Gavin that I had decided to make a change. He was more understanding than I expected.”
With the doubt about Do It Again’s participation Sands spoke to Justin Snaith and Richard Fourie who rode Rainbow Bridge to win the horse’s first three races as well as last season’s Champions Cup. But the dual July winner’s recovery put paid to that.
When Sands spoke to Rattray the owner suggested Frankie Dettori – “But we couldn’t get hold of him. However I knew Jehan Malherbe had a link to Ryan Moore who is, if not the best jockey in the world, certainly one of the top four. So I spoke to Jehan about getting him.”
Lerena said yesterday: “The Met was Rainbow Bridge’s mission and to be jocked off when the horse is going over his right trip is a bitter pill to swallow. I believe he goes very well for me. He doesn’t over-race and he runs as straight as an arrow whereas he hangs with some of the other jockeys who have ridden him. All the best to Ryan – he is one of the greatest – but he doesn’t know Rainbow Bridge.”
Moore, 36, first jockey to Aidan O’Brien’s all-conquering Ballydoyle operation, has won big races all over the world including the Derby (twice), Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (twice), Melbourne Cup, Japan Cup and nine Breeders’ Cup races – but so far nothing in South Africa.Do It Again’s poor recovery from his Queen’s Plate run may have been because he is a carrier of biliary, the equine version of tick fever.
Snaith explained: “A lot of horses in South Africa become biliary carriers after getting bitten by a tick and we now think there is a small chance that Do It Again was carrying it in when he ran in the Queen’s Plate.
“Also he is not a good doer – he just eats as much as he needs – and this is why we don’t run him a lot. But there has definitely been improvement [in the last few days] and he is now looking better than he did before the Queen’s Plate.”
BLOB Wednesday’s meeting at Kenilworth has been abandoned after there were only 46 acceptors for the eight races. National Racing Bureau staff rang the trainers but could not come up with enough extra runners. In truth, the writing was on the wall when there were only 74 entered.
By Michael Clower