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South Africa's Lerena Takes Jockey's Championship

South Africa's reigning champion rider Gavin LerenaSouth Africa's reigning champion rider, Gavin Lerena, booted home the last two winners to take top honors in the Dec. 9 Longines International Jockeys' Championship at a rain-soaked Happy Valley Racecourse.

Lerena was shut out in the first two legs of the four-race competition, but he arrived at the finish in front with Mr Right in the third race and was up with a late, outside run aboard Superoi in the final to finish with 24 points.

England's Ryan Moore and Keita Tosaki, representing Japan, finished second and third, respectively. Victor Espinoza, the U.S. representative who won the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) this year with American Pharoah, fared less well at Happy Valley. Espinoza, who dominated local media attention in the lead-up to the races, was among four of the 12 competitors who failed to score a single point.

Moore and Tosaki were involved in a deadheat for win in the second leg of the competition, splitting the points for first and second in that heat.

Lerena has won the South African Derby twice and holds the record for most wins in South Africa in a single month with 42 in June 2015. It was his first appearance in the Hong Kong competition.

A heavy rain fell through most of the day and well into the race program, softening the Happy Valley turf and forcing the crowd under cover, with umbrellas the most valued accessory on an evening that has become a major Hong Kong social event.

The jockey competition got a bit of a scare when local favorite Joao Moreira, known to Hong Kong racegoers as "magic man," was thrown to the turf just after the finish of the race prior the start of the jockey championship.

Moreira was not seriously injured and was introduced to the crowd as having "just got up off the floor."

-from www.BloodHorse.com

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