Skip to main content

Keagan de Melo wins the last race at Happy Valley (Wednesday). Lyle Hewitson (red and white colours) is in third place and Luke Ferraris (Green colours next to the winner) is fourth (HKJC)

Lyle Hewitson earned the last of twelve berths in the Longines International Jockeys Championship and fellow SA Jockeys Academy Graduate Karis Teetan is also in. Luke Ferraris nearly denied Hewitson a place in the championship, which would have happened had he won the last race at Happy Valley today (Wednesday). Keagan de Melo broke a long drought by winning that last race. Ferarris did win a race earlier in the meeting.

The South China Morning Post reported on the drama.

Lyle Hewitson secures International Jockeys’ Championship berth as Alfred Chan snares breakthrough winner

South African tackles the prestigious competition for the third time after doing just enough at Happy Valley on Wednesday night

by Sam Agarson Thursday
Lyle Hewitson has done just enough to snare the final spot in next month’s Longines International Jockeys’ Championship, securing his position by virtue of having more third placings than Brenton Avdulla.
While Hewitson, Avdulla and Andrea Atzeni headed to Happy Valley on Wednesday night with 10 wins apiece, not one of the trio could manage a victory and it was Hewitson’s runner-up finish aboard Happy Tango that drew him level on seconds with Avdulla and saw his far superior third-place count carry him home.
Luke Ferraris did make things a touch more interesting, moving to 10 wins by taking out the Class Four Plover Cove Handicap (1,200m) aboard Scotch Tycoon, and there was a moment in the finale when it looked like he could pinch the spot. However, he could ultimately only manage fourth aboard O’Liner.
Hewitson will compete in the IJC for the third time – he was a late inclusion last year after Covid-19 ruled out Yuga Kawada – after joining Zac Purton, Karis Teetan, Vincent Ho Chak-yiu and the eight internationals in the line-up.
“My unlucky one of the night – Happy Tango – saved me, so I’m very grateful for that,” Hewitson said.
“Look, there’s no secret – we made it in by default, but with that said, someone had to step up to the plate, and I’m glad it’s me. I’ve competed in two previously. Hopefully, it will be third time lucky.”
Elsewhere, the highlight of the night came when Alfred Chan Ka-hei booted home the David Hayes-trained Samarkand to get off the mark for 2023-24.
Allowed to control the first 800m of the Class Four American Club Challenge Cup (1,650m), Chan snared victory with his 20th ride of the campaign and tasted success for the first time since Lucky Quality’s triumph on July 9.
“It’s awesome,” Chan said. “It’s been frustrating because I’ve had three seconds for my boss [Caspar Fownes] this season, so to win this race tonight is great. I’ve been working hard and trying my best, so it’s a great result.”
While the IJC hopefuls did not fire too many shots, two of the jockeys whose spots were already assured cashed in early in proceedings.
Teetan continued his good form, stretching his winning streak to eight straight meetings with a brace.
After taking out the Class Five Shek Pik Handicap (1,650m) aboard Douglas Whyte’s Splendid Star, Teetan followed up by spearing home Quantum Patch for Pierre Ng Pang-chi in the Class Three Kam Shan Handicap (1,650m).
“It’s nice. It’s a pleasure to get the support – without the support, you just can’t do it,” said the Mauritian.
“I just try to win on every horse I ride and try to give them the best chance. To ride on IJC night against the world’s finest jockeys – to be part of that, it’s fantastic.”
Ho, who entered the meeting four wins clear of Matthew Chadwick and with a stranglehold on the leading local slot, snared a double on the first half of the card thanks to the wins of M Unicorn and Happy United.
After M Unicorn steamed home from the back half of the field to take out the first section of the Class Four Tai Tam Handicap (1,650m), Happy United did much the same in the Class Four Shek Lei Pui Handicap (1,000m) to lift Ho to 13 victories for the campaign.
“I’ll have fun in the IJC again against the top jockeys in the world. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s another learning opportunity for myself – everything is about learning, so riding against those guys will be amazing,” Ho said.
The win of Happy United rung up a welcome double for trainer Jamie Richards, who also took out the opener with Ernest Feeling to jump to six victories this season.
After saluting on the final day of last season to deliver the retiring Richard Gibson his final win, Ernest Feeling posted a two-and-a-quarter-length success under Antoine Hamelin in the Class Five Tai Lam Chung Handicap (1,200m) in his first start for Richards.
Hamelin is another who has been slow away this season, but the Frenchman has now tasted success at consecutive meetings and has five victories to his name.

Turf Talk

Talented reigning SA Champion Jockey Keagan de Melo has discovered in no uncertain terms how tough Hong Kong racing is and his win in the last race at Happy Valley today prevented him from having a ninth successive blank meeting.

Ironically, the drought followed a double, which had given hope that he would land some better rides.

He has now had six wins in all after 111 rides.

Luke Ferraris also had a winner today to joing Lyle Hewitson on ten wins for the season, which puts them in joint sixth place on the log toghether with Brenton Avdulla and Andrea Atzeni.

De Melo’s last win at Happy Valley happened the meeting before his Sha Tin double and was aboard the David Hall-trained Never Too Soon, a six-year-old Australian-bred Written Tycoon gelding, in a class 3 1200m event.

Today in the last race he was aboard that same horse, albeit from a draw of nine compared to a draw of two, and the horse had also gone up six points in the ratings after that one length victory on October 18.

He dropped his mount out to second last and then crept up on the rail. Luke Ferraris led in to the straight and looked to have a sneak on O’Liner, but challenges came from all round and Never Too Soon burst through towards the inside to clinch it under a fine ride by De Melo. Never Too Soon paid 15.75 on the Tote.

Earlier, Ferraris led from start to finish on the Mark Newnham-trained Scotch Tycoon (Rich Enuff) in a 1200m class 4 event. The Australian-bred five-year-old gelding paird 13.35 on the Tote.