Zackey To Ride For Kannemeyer

'Keagan has to take the opportunity in Hong Kong'

Track And Ball Derby winning team Dean Kannemeyer, Keagan de Melo and Nicolette Roscoe (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Dean Kannemeyer is enjoying plenty of feature success in the 2023 Champions Season and after Gimme A Prince’s top-class victory in the Gr1 Golden Horse Sprint earlier this month, the stable produced the goods at the same venue on Saturday when Runaway Song caught the eye, winning the Gr3 Track And Ball Derby to give the yard their third victory in seven renewals.

The positive run for the top team was tempered slightly this week when news broke of the impending departure of their Winning Form-sponsored jockey Keagan de Melo to Hong Kong.

Australians Brenton Avdulla and Luke Currie join De Melo in being granted part-season Hong Kong licences that expire on 12 February.

But Dean Kannemeyer said that he would never stand in the way of anybody being given such a terrific opportunity.

“This is an accolade and deserved acknowledgement for Keagan’s consistently outstanding achievements over the past few seasons, culminating in what is set to be his first national title this term. It’s an opportunity not to be missed, and while we will miss his invaluable contribution to the success of our yard, we can only wish him every success,” added the man who found De Melo long before he was the finished product.

“We have always believed that a dedicated rider is important for the success of any training operation. They get to know the horses and feedback is vital,” he added.

When taxed on a possible replacement, Kannemeyer said that he had informed his patrons earlier on Saturday that Craig Zackey would join the team on 1 September.

Top rider Craig Zackey will take over from Keagan de Melo (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

A former SA Champion Apprentice, Craig has ten Gr1 winners to his credit, including success in races like the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and the Cape Fillies Guineas, and also boasts 22 winners at Gr2 and Gr3 level.

Zackey spent a short time in New Zealand last year, where he displayed his ability and prowess in the saddle, and rode the winner of the Karaka Million, as well as enjoying a Gr2 and Gr3 victory.

“Craig has the cv and has ridden top horses across South Africa. He has also been an ambassador for a leading brand in Mauritzfontein and Wilgerbosdrift. We welcome him to the DKR team,”concluded Kannemeyer.

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