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Ruling South African champion jockey Gavin Lerena leaves for a two-month contract in Hong Kong just after midday on Sunday and will miss the Highveld Autumn Feature Season – his favourite time of year.

“I had quite a few good potential rides in the big feature races, but I can’t have my cake and eat it – this is an opportunity I can’t afford to miss,” Lerena said.

His contract only starts in March, but the Hong Kong Jockey Club has scheduled a Press conference for 22 February, which is why Lerena is leaving so soon.

“I’ll still be riding on Thursday and Saturday and I’m hoping to go out with a bang,” said the jockey who has been riding with enormous confidence and has won seven races from 19 rides in the last week.