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SA Racing Bids The Mungers Farewell

Ash Fortune is going to miss the power couple!

South Africa has bid farewell to another accomplished jockey as Ryan Munger and his wife Kelsey, who is an assistant and work rider in the Ashley Fortune Vaal yard, jetted out of Johannesburg on Monday afternoon on a 20 hour journey en route to a new adventure and a very different life to what they are used to in Ontario, Canada.

Ryan Munger and his workrider wife, Kelsey, have left for a new life in Canada (Pic – JC Photos)

In many respects, Ryan, whose Dad has Canadian roots, is a pioneer as not many of our riders have tried their luck in Canada.

The world’s second-largest country by total area, with the globe’slongest coastline, Canada enjoys a solid horseracing fan base and the excited couple said that they would miss their friends in South Africa and the support of the Ashley Fortune and Tara Laing yards, particularly.

“We thought long and hard about it. But I’d rather take a chance today than look back in ten years time and say I should have!” said former Zimbabwe champion  Ryan as he spoke about the exciting, yet daunting, prospects of the new challenge.

And of course their beloved dogs are going with. “They are part of the family,” adds the 27 year old who is sixth on the national log and enjoying a great season with 88 winners – that compares favourably with the 87 he rode last term.

Leading lady trainer Ashley Fortune employed Ryan as her stable jockey and Kelsey as an assistant trainer.

She is clearly going to miss the talented couple.

Winning team! Ash Fortune, with Kelsey and Ryan, and her husband Andrew Fortune (Pic – JC Photos)

“They were great to have in the stable – both unbelievably loyal and staunch to the yard – nothing was ever too much for them! If we needed them to work, even if Ryan wasn’t riding the horse, he would turn up! Kelsey is very efficient in everything she did – there was always laughing and jokes!” lamented Ashley, as she bid them farewell.

She reflected that having a stable jock is a great asset as they learn how the yard works and thinks and get to build relationships with the horses.

“But we are not looking to replace Ryan just yet – the perfect fit will happen,” added the top horsewoman.

The Canadian racing season already commenced on 22 April and Ryan will be represented by agent Mike Luider, best known for his longtime client Emma-Jayne Wilson, one of Canada’s all-time top jockeys.

Durban-born Ryan has never been to Canada, but has relatives in the eastern part of the country.

He gives credit to his Durban July winning jockey uncle Stuart Randolph for mentoring and guiding his career.

He was the champion rider in Zimbabwe in the 2017/18 season and in 2020 rode in Singapore where he also had a successful campaign.

Ryan leaves behind a top season in South Africa and rode three feature winners on 11 March at Turffontein.

The idea of moving to Canada came about during his stint in Singapore.

“My wife and I were there during [the COVID-19] lockdown. We tossed around ideas about other places where we might go to ride. We knew about Woodbine, and how big it was, and at first, I thought it was in the USA. When I realized it was in Canada, I was even more interested.”

Ryan was pointed in the direction of respected Jockey Agent Luider, who has also handled the books of champions Eurico Rosa da Silva and Jim McAleney. “I knew of Emma-Jayne Wilson, in fact, everyone in South Africa knows Emma-Jayne Wilson,” said the talented rider with the clean-cut image.

“What Mike has done with Emma-Jayne is a real feather in his cap and I am very privileged that he will represent me.”

Asked to name one of his assets as a rider, the modest Ryan scratches his neck before offering an answer.

“The one thing I would say about myself is that I feel like I am a very good judge of pace. You need a horse with a chance, but I am very calm and patient and feel like I can put my horses where they should be in a race.”

We wish the Mungers well!

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