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Picture: Keagan de Melo being led in on Chyavana after a ride out of the top drawer at the Vaal Classic track today (JC Photos) 


Anthony Delpech’s record of 334 winners in a season has been called the safest record in SA racing on occasion, but in fact if Keagan de Melo keeps up his current rate of rides and current strike rate he will fall a tantalising two winners short of that record.

There have been 88 days in this season so far and De Melo has had 341 rides for 80 winners at a strike rate of 23.46%.
If he keeps up that riding rate he will have about 1,415 rides in the season and a strike rate of 23.46% on that figure gives him 332 wins. 
He appears able to steer clear of trouble, or from causing trouble in races, so can avoid suspensions.
His phlegmatic character might also enable him to keep exhaustion at bay in what would be a taxing travelling schedule for most.  
However, on the other hand, Warren Kennedy at this same stage last year was on 82 wins and keeping it up would have put him on a record 340 wins.
De Melo has used the support he has been given around the country this calendar year to prove how good he is.
He quickly advanced to one who could be called “top echelon.”
However, if he were today be called the best jockey in the country there would not be many who would quibble. 
He was always known as a rider who was able to reserve energy in his mounts for the finish.
Now that he is being given better horses to ride he is honing this skill and improving continuously.
His ride today on the Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained Flower Alley gelding Chyavana was a case in point and showed off his wide range of skills too.
Jumping from draw two in the 1200m contest, De Melo soon found himself in a tight position.
However, he extracted himself from that position without any hint of panic whatsoever.
Having made all the correct split second decisions to put his mount into the clear, he then timed his finishing burst to perfection.
However, there were still dangers on both sides, so hard driving was required.
In the midst of all that he managed to execute two  important whip hand changes. 
The four-year-old Maine Chance Farms-bred Chyavana relished the step up to 1200m from 1000m and converted 7/2 odds to become a three time winner from just eight career starts.