De Melo not lost his ‘bottle’

PUBLISHED: 14 November 2019

Down To Earth (Candiese Lenferna)

There has been a recent changing of the guard at Dean Kannemeyer’s Summerveld satellite yard with long-time assistant Barbara Badenhorst, now Mrs Warren Kennedy, electing to sign up with her brother Wayne.

With seasoned trainer Alistair Gordon calling it a day at the end of the month to join Bloodstock South Africa on a full-time basis, Nicolette Roscoe, Gordon’s long-time assistant, has moved to fill Badenhorst’s shoes and Roscoe had a good first day at the office at Hollywoodbets Greyville yesterday.

Down To Earth (Candiese Lenferna)
Down To Earth (Candiese Lenferna)

The afternoon didn’t start to brightly as Warren Kennedy finally got the best out of the ever threatening Opensea in the card opener in which many thought was over a distance too short. But Opensea was not short of pace and making the running, Kennedy pinching a break at the top of the straight and Opensea kept firing to the line with the well-backed Lundy’s Lad not quite up to the challenge.

Keagan De Melo may have had to swallow the bitter pill of second in the first but in spite of escaping serious injury after an horrific fall at Scottsville last month, he has lost none of his ‘bottle’.

The Kannemeyer-trained Kapen Pride was well-back turning for home and apparently going nowhere in the fifth, but De Melo eased him off the heels of race favourite Noble Joshua, taking the gap between the favourite and race leader Pollard and punching hands-and-heels to a smart win yet narrow win.

De Melo had to work for his Kannemeyer crust in the seventh to get race favourite, Joseph Jagger home ahead of stable companion Slew City. Donovan Dillon appeared to have pinched a winning lead on the less fancied of the stable runners, but De Melo managed to extract a final burst down the ‘golden highway’ – outside of the Greyville poly track as Anton Marcus likes to refer to it – to catch Slew City in the shadow of the post.

Dennis Drier has kept faith in Escape Club and the five-year-old mare repaid in kind running as a smart winner of the sixth. Connect Me, going the trip for the first time, looked home-and-hosed inside the last furlong. But her rider seemed to get himself into a right tangle allowing Escape Club to live up to her name as she barrelled home down the ‘highway’ under stable rider Sean Veale.

Warren Kennedy is slowly but surely tightening his grip on his first national jockey’s title. At this early stage of the season he went into yesterday’s meeting 26 winner’s clear of nearest rival Greg Cheyne and extended that to 28 after he rode a clever race on Opensea in the card opener and a more comfortable win on odds-on favourite Down To Earth in the fourth.

By Andrew Harrison