Skip to main content

Keagan de Melo after his first win in Hong Kong (Picture: Kenneth Chan)

The South China Morning Post published a detailed report on Wednesday’s Happy Valley meeting, which was a memorable one for South African ex-pats Keagan de Melo and Luke Ferraris. Read it below.

Keagan de Melo tastes maiden Hong Kong success, while Andrea Atzeni announces his return

by Sam Agarson (South China Morning Post)

South African teams up with ‘King of the Valley’ Caspar Fownes to hit the board with just his fourth ride in the city
Keagan de Melo tasted success with just his fourth Hong Kong ride, while Andrea Atzeni saluted in the city for the first time since 2014 at the opening Happy Valley meeting of the season on Wednesday night.
After three rides at double-figure odds on Sunday, South African De Melo took his chance aboard $3.3 second favourite Valhalla for “King of the Valley” Caspar Fownes in the Class Five Yi O Handicap (1,200m).
“Everyone says how tough it is [in Hong Kong]. To get a break through like this very early, I’m very lucky to be in this position,” De Melo said.
“It’s a good start, and I enjoy these types of courses. Hopefully, it can be onwards and upwards from here. Thank you very much to Caspar and his team for the opportunity.”
Fownes snaring the first Valley race of the season would have surprised no one, but the finishing burst of Valhalla certainly turned a few heads.
After finding the rail from barrier four, De Melo went for the inside run in the home straight but after that disappeared about 200m from home, he was forced to steady the six-year-old and bring him around the two leaders.
“I had a nice rails run, but it closed up and I had to switch out. There were nervous times up the straight, but I managed to get out in time, which is the main thing,” De Melo said.
Fownes was pleased to see his decision to back up Valhalla off his fifth at Sha Tin on Sunday pay off – with the son of Ocean Park finally saluting at start 17 – and just as happy to give De Melo a crucial early kick along.
“This horse has been such a disappointment. He backed up really well. It was not a nice watch at the 200m, but luckily, he switched off their heels and put them to sleep very quickly,” Fownes said.
“We know how important an early winner is for a jockey in this place. Obviously, the guy can ride, being champion of South Africa. He’s obviously got talent, and it’s like anything – if you get the opportunities, you can perform. I’ll throw a few decent rides his way, and I’m sure others will start to support him. I wish him the best.”
Just like he did in his first Hong Kong stint – a five-week stay in 2014 – Atzeni hit the board at his second meeting, taking out the second section of the Class Four Tai O Handicap (1,200m) aboard Ricky Yiu Poon-fai’s Mega Bonus.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been here, and it’s nice to get back. Only my second meeting back in Hong Kong, to bag a winner [is great],” Atzeni said.
“I must say Ricky has been very supportive from the minute I arrived. Between barrier trials and galloping horses, he’s been using me quite a lot, and it’s nice to grab my first winner for him.”
Elsewhere, last season’s most successful Valley trainer, Francis Lui Kin-wai, continued his strong start to the season with a double.
After Joy Coming took out the first section of the Tai O Handicap under Keith Yeung Ming-lun, Luke Ferraris speared the impressive Hameron to victory in the Class Three Ngong Ping Handicap (1,650m) to complete Lui’s brace.

Derek Leung Ka-chun and Ferraris shared the riding honours, with Leung slotting a running double thanks to the wins of Kowloon East Star and Harmony N Blessed, while Ferraris also delivered aboard Xponential.