Lerner picks up fast in Kuala Lumpur gig, Latest Racing News - The New Paper

Lerner picks up fast in Kuala Lumpur gig

Kranji-based French jockey wins on Buffalo Stable’s Trumpy at first cross-border raid

Not too long ago, Kranji jockeys shuttling to Malaysia for the weekend were a dime a dozen.

The likes of Benny Woodworth, Oscar Chavez, Azhar Ismail were frequent flyers, even after the four Malayan Racing Association clubs stopped rotating among each other following the Nipah virus outbreak in 1999.

The trend then tapered off significantly in the last decade or so, to only the odd hoop venturing North if the “lobang” (Malay for opportunity) was good.

But in recent years, it seems to have gained traction again, especially with Singapore racing closing doors in October.

Brazilian jockey Bernardo Pinheiro – soon to commence another Kranji stint in March – was a regular commuter, and very successful at that.

But for the most part, it was local riders like Simon Kok, Wong Chin Chuen, A’Isisuhairi Kasim and lately, Jerlyn Seow, who packed their bags for the Sunday pitstop visits, usually at the capital track in Kuala Lumpur.

On Feb 18, it was a Singapore-based expatriate jockey who jumped on the bandwagon for the first time – Marc Lerner.

The former Germany-based Frenchman, who is in his seventh Singapore season, has never really considered crossing the Causeway for rides, content with the successful career he had carved out at his new home.

But, when offers to guest appear at the Selangor Turf Club meeting were made around two weeks out, the 33-year-old was not averse to the idea of testing other waters.

“I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur as a tourist, but never to ride. I’ve never really thought about it until a couple of weeks ago,” he said.

“Daniel Meagher got everything organised for me. Back home, he trains for Uncle Soon (Tan Cheong Soon) who had a runner in Kuala Lumpur, Watch Out Boss.

“Uncle Soon has always been a good owner to me. Besides, my Saturday winner Always Together is his, I just couldn’t say no to his invitation.

“I then picked up other rides, including three for Peter Lee (Buffalo Stable) who has horses with Tim Fitzsimmons.

“Peter just bought Trumpy from Tim’s owner and decided to send him to Malaysia to be trained by Lawson Moy in Kuala Lumpur.

“I would say Trumpy and Watch Out Boss were the two main reasons why I thought it was worth checking out Malaysia for the first time.”

Lerner’s hunch proved to be spot-on. Of his six rides at the Sungei Besi racecourse, Trumpy was the only one to oblige while Watch Out Boss ran third.

Another ride, Big Bad Mama for Teh Ming Wan, also picked up a third-place cheque that will certainly help cover the trip.

“I’ve never ridden Trumpy in Singapore, but I know he had good form there,” said Lerner who flew out of Singapore with his wife Mathilde after the Kranji races on Feb 17.

“The 1,400m race was a bit short for him, but he was in good form, even for a first Malaysian start.

“He settled at the rear and was relaxed throughout. In the straight, the favourite Cheval Blanc was well clear but hanging out badly.

“It looked like my horse was taking advantage of that, but actually, he was also starting to gather momentum.

“The more the winning post came up, the stronger he was running on. He’s a real stayer and could have gone another lap after the post.

“I’d like to go back to ride him again. He’ll win more races up there.”

Lerner said Watch Out Boss could have made that maiden sojourn even more fruitful, but, overall, he could not complain about the results.

“Watch Out Boss was checked but he still ran a good third,” he said.

“I wished I could have won for Uncle Soon, but it’s okay. I won on Always Together at Kranji.

“He saved my day that day. He’s so consistent in Class 4 and he again showed a lot of heart.”

The Shalaa four-year-old’s ½-length win from Show All Sixty-One (Clyde Leck) in the Class 4 Polytrack race (1,200m) was textbook material.

From the inside alley, he grabbed the early lead before handing it up to Hurricane (Manoel Nunes) to box-seat right behind.

Lerner waited for the home turn to pop off the fence and collar the leader. Once Always Together shot past, he just had to knuckle down to the task to repel all comers.