Who Is Your Early Choice To Win The Jockey Title?

Keagan de Melo, newly crowned KZN champion jockey and now a Winning Form sponsored rider, broke the ice when he rode his first winner of the new term at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Sunday.

It was De Melo’s first meeting of the 2022/23 season and while his book of rides likely suggested three possible winners, he will be happy to have brought Dean Kannemeyer’s Cheeky Laddie home in a tight finish on the debut.

Keagan de Melo gets the gray Cheeky Laddie to beat Red Sail (Tristan Godden) and Lazy Guy (Calvin Habib) in a rousing finish for second at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Sunday (Image – Candies Lenferna)

Buying a beautifully bred National Yearling Sale for R2.8 million was relatively unpopular but showed his class.

David Thiselton writes at www.goldcircle.co.za tHat de Melo is another title contender in an exciting season.

He was suspended for the first week of the season. He was on vacation last week because yesterday’s meeting of the Hollywoodbets in Scottsville was his first meeting of the new season.

To date he has ridden 139 winners this calendar year, that is since January 1st, the second most in the country, just one behind the 140th of champion jockey Warren Kennedy.

That goes to show how deadly he’s been since he’s garnered support from a number of fine shipyards across the country.

Jockey S’Manga Khumalo, won by Hollywoodbets Durban in July, is on a three week holiday in Gqeberha and Cape Town so has only ridden in Fairview and one meeting in Cape Town so far this season but will be riding in KZN again on August 21st (next Sunday ) and in Jo’burg from 23.

Premium Smanga ‘Bling’ Khumalo (Image – Candies Lenferna)

Nonetheless, he has already ridden eight winners this season, all for Alan Greeff, who will bravely attempt to wrest the East Cape Trainers Championship from Gavin Smith.

Greeff has had nine winners so far this season, matching Paul Peter’s number of winners and he is just behind the latter in appearances.

Greeff has won a total of 15 East Cape Trainers Championships and had won them eight straight seasons before Smith won them back last season.

Smith had a slow start to the season but got going with a triple on Friday to take his tally to four for the season.

The two arch-rivals always have an impact on the national jockey championship and both have had to find stable new jockeys this season, with Greg Cheyne leaving for England and Warren Kennedy emigrating to New Zealand.

Also now sponsored by Winning Form, Richard Fourie got the job for Greeff. Khumalo just helped out in August.

Fourie has yet to race this season and is currently suspended until the 24th of this month.

However, he should make a bold bid to win a first national championship.

JP van der Merwe appears to be the favorite to take over Kennedy at Smith yard as he appeared to be the second choice last season.

He was medically indicated for 10 days after a crash at Hollywoodbets Greyville Polytrack on August 3rd but was back racing at Hollywoodbets Scottsville yesterday.

He was released on a precautionary medical suspension and returned to Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Sunday. He has not yet had a winner this season.

Muzi Yeni leads the championship with 11 winners so far but is currently sitting out a two-week suspension until the 25th of this month.

Muzi Yeni – always competitive and desperate to win the title after a couple of near misses (Image – Candies Lenferna)

Importantly, six of his winners were for the Paul-Peter-Werft. The position of first-call driver is up for grabs at the championship-winning yard, considering Kennedy is likely to depart. Yeni has a shoe in the door with these wins.

Khumalo is second on the national list with eight winners, and third with seven are Gavin Lerena, Kabelo Matsuyane and Calvin Habib.

Richard Fourie is arguably the most sought after jockey in the country.

He’s clinched the Greeff position and together with the support he’s going to have from major shipyards across the country he must be the favorite to win the title.

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