Stephen Lerena (29) got of the mark as a licensed trainer at Turffontein on Saturday when three-year-old Two Guns won a
Workriders Plate over 1160m under Thomas Ncume.
“It’s taken me five months to get my first winner and I’m glad the weight is off my shoulders,” Lerena told Turf Talk.
“Two Guns won in the Lerena family silks, first used by my late
grandfather which made the win even better.”
Stephen took over the small string from his veteran father “Spike”, a regular Top 5-contender in the heydays of Terrance
Millard, Jean Heming and Ormond Ferraris but laid low with a lack of support in recent years. It hasn’t been easy for the
young Lerena, because there isn’t too much you can do with only 12 horses in the yard of which most are unraced.
Stephen has been an employee of the stable since he was 16, riding work to start. He became an assistant trainer at age 21
working alongside his father with top horses including November Handicap winner Grand Format, American Storm
and Cyber Cento.
“It’s a time of building for me, I’d like to get the stable to 25 horses to be more competitive,” said Stephen, who hopes
to follow on his first win soon with Samara, who has dropped in the ratings and is likely to bump the right field in the
next few weeks; and Super Mufti, a onetime winner and new acquisition from the Shongweni Sale showing promising
There is some new blood in the yard, always needed for a young, growing stable. They include his cousin and
business partner Kevin Lerena, the champion boxer, Ross Moore, Kuben Govender, Logan Pillay and Neren Singh.
“The guys are excited and I am grateful. Some of them will have to wait awhile for the young horses to come through
but they have given me support and encouragement.”
Spike Lerena is still in the background assisting, though has taken a back seat. He said: “I am very proud of my son, he planned
the win well, he told me how he wanted to set it up over the sprint instead of waiting for a suitable mile.”
Ncume, who is a regular work rider for Mike de Kock in Dubai, is no stranger to the Lerena stable and Spike told:
“Thomas had his first winner for us on a big, cumbersome mare called Commingle that was owned by Laurie Jaffee.”
Spike is on his way to the Houston, Texas later this week to visit his US based daughter Jacqueline and son-inlaw,
expecting a new-born.