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Gavin Lerena is clearly delighted when scoring for the seventh time on the gallant old galloper Nordic Rebel (JC Photos)

The gallant Erico Verdonese-trained ten-year-old Rebel King gelding Nordic Rebel had his 81st career start today at Turffontein Inside and recorded his 12th career victory.

It was the seventh time Gavin Lerena has won on him.

The Normany Stud-bred miler now has earnings of R1,140,825.

His previous win was exactly 17 months ago on 22 September, 2022, although he has had four second place finishes since then.

Nordic Rebel’s first win, under Gavin Lerena on May 11 as a three-year-old, was over 1200m at the Vaal and he powered in by 3,75 lengths having been backed in fro  4/1 to 3/1.

His wins since then have been between 1400m and 1600m, with 1600m being his most common winning distance (6 wins).

He has always been well regarded as is evidence by his debut in which he was backed in from 4/1 to 16/10 over 1200m at Turffontein Inside and finishing a 0,90 length third under Piere Strydom.

He won at the fourth time of asking.

He had a couple of disappointing runs after his maiden win when still a three-year-old and he was consequently rested for three months and gelded.

The highest merit rating he has won off has been a 90 in a MR 90 Handicap over 1600m at the Vaal on January 30, 2020, beating Finchatton by 0,75 lengths under Gavin Lerena.

In July and August of 2020 he placed second twice off a 95 merit rating, the highest rating he has ever reached.

Nordic Rebel was coming off four successive unplaced runs in today’s Classified Stakes race over 1500m. However, he was never further back than 3,50 lengths in his last three runs.

He was only 1kg under sufferance with the best weighted horse under today’s Classified conditions, the filly Count Your Chances.

Nevertheless, he drifted out from 6/1 to 16/1.

He was drawn four out of the ten runners.

The race panned out welll because Nordic Rebel found himself in seventh place one out with cover.

He turned for home about five lengths off the pacemaker Mitch Got His Wish.

Lerena kept him nicely covered up and got to work at the 400m mark.

He ran on well and the stick was kept away other than just a backhander to straighten him late on.

He ran out a cosy 0,30 length winner from Willlow Express and Fast Duty with Bushveld and Sage King next best.

Bushveld was carrying the hopes of a Hollywoodbets Punters Challenge player who had successfully selected the first seven winners on the day.

Gavin described the gallant Nordic Rebel as a “special, special horse” and praised Erico Verdonese for a “phenomenal training feat.”

He said he was quietly confident after the gelding had given him “an exceptional feel” going down to the start.

In fact Gavin’s wife Vicky, who was the pundit accompanying presenter Cecil Mthembu for the day, had asked the producer to show his canter down again and commented that “he looks like a two-year-old.”

“He is moving so well and is such a happy horse,” said Gavin, who’s partnership with the Verdonese yard goes back many years.

“All credit to my trainer,” he concluded.

Erico said, “It’s nice when you get horses like this. From day one he has given us a lot of pleasure and he never runs a bad race, he is never far behind.”

He said there were so many signs he could win today.

He explained, “He normally performs at Turffontein, he doesn’t like it here for some reason, but today he took it in his stride.  I’m sure Vicky had something to do with it, because she’s always there to help us in the morning, which is great!”

He added, “When you see a horse like this coming through the pack it is something else! It was a lovely ride from Gavin once again.”

He concluded, “And well done to Bev and Eric, they have been sitting with him for many years.”

Erico owns Nordic Rebel in partnership with Mr and Mrs ER Grace and DD Savadier.

Nordic Rebel’s groom Jose Sithole is appropriately nicknamed “Life”.

He has done a fine job keeping Nordic Rebel’s zest for life going and there could be more racing to follow judging by today’s performance.