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Picture: Johan Janse van Vuuren scored a treble on Saturday and an exacta in the main race, the Grade 2 Allied Steelrode Onamission Charity Mile, and he is in an elated mood above with jockeys Gavin Lerena, who rode Bingwa, and Keagan de Melo, who rode Puerto Manzano. (JC Photos).

Among horses he learnt the ropes with were superstars Jet Master, El Picha and Yard-Arm

Mike Moon (The Citizen)

Johan Janse van Vuuren is not one for the limelight and doesn’t do personal interviews. He’ll talk about his horses, not himself.

But the trainer couldn’t conceal his delight and pride in winning three races on Allied Steelrode-On a Mission Charity Mile day at Turffontein last Saturday.
“My cheeks are hurting from smiling so much,” he declared on TV after greeting his main race winner, Bingwa, in the winner’s circle. “I now smiled more than I have in the last month.”
That month was spent preparing a clutch of his horses for this day – focusing on the prestigious meeting in the manner of top trainers.
He had four runners in the Charity Mile and ended up with a 1-2, with his consistent Argentinian import Puerto Manzano the runner-up to Bingwa.
“He is a super horse to train, he’s been very, very easy. I took him over from the Shams and he came to me in fantastic condition,” said Janse van Vuuren.
“I thought it was a very competitive field this year. Bingwa has been working superbly for the past three weeks. I was very, very confident when I got draw one, not to necessarily win it but that I will be very close.
“Puerto Manzano … well, I knew I had him in a tremendous space.”
Bingwa was ridden by Gavin Lerena, who echoed Janse van Vuuren’s sentiments.
“He’s a wonderful horse to work with,” said the former champion jockey. “He came from Dorrie Sham; she did an amazing job with him, but Johan has taken over the reins beautifully.
“This horse has just kept improving. His first run back was two months ago and he’s just kept improving in his work.
“All accolades must go to Johan. He was confident for this race. He said he was going to run one and two, doesn’t know which way – it’s a great training feat…”
Janse van Vuuren, 40, has had his training licence for a decade and has been among the top dozen conditioners in the country in recent years, being unafraid to travel around the country in search of opportunities for his horses.
Straight out of school, Vereeniging-born Janse van Vuuren started work as a lowly water bucket carrier for Vaal trainer Mike Riley, later moving to the yard of the maestro Geoff Woodruff – who he credits with teaching him an enormous amount about racing.
Among horses he learnt the ropes with were superstars Jet Master, El Picha and Yard-Arm.
After 13 years with Woodruff, he went out on his own and got invaluable support from prolific owner Laurance Wernars, along with other loyal patrons Harry Willson and Jaap van der Vendel. The winners were not long in coming.
The Charity Mile proved to be a major moment in a young career, when Janse van Vuuren landed four feature races at the 2016 meeting, including the main race with Wernars-owned New Predator.
A personal profile article in The Citizen after that red-letter day might have been the last such interview he gave and in it he confessed to being highly superstitious and fearful of jinxing his chances with a wrong word.
There were no wrong words before Saturday’s events and the stable celebrated wins in Races 2 and 3 with Southern Skies and Bon Vivant respectively – both owned by Wernars – before the coup de grace in the Charity Mile.
You could say Janse van Vuuren was “man of the match”.