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Runaway Song wins the Gr 3 Track & Ball Derby (Candiese Lenferna)

Andrew Harrison (Gold Circle)

Dean Kannemeyer is no stranger to training stayers, having trained three winners of the Gr3 Gold Cup and Runaway Song, restricted to a mile under his previous trainer, stepped up to the traditional Derby distance with aplomb as he cruised home in the Gr3 Track & Ball Derby. Kannemeyer is also a very good judge of a jockey having signed up Keagan de Melo as stable rider.

With De Melo heading for Hong Kong in September Craig Zackey will fill his boots, but until then the champion jockey elect continues on his merry way with a four-timer at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Saturday.

The Derby was run at no great gallop but ‘honest’ according to De Melo, and he was content to sit in the dicky seat for most of the race as Salvator Mundi dictated.

Aragosta, always handy, tried to make a race of it as the field swung for home but De Melo was sitting with a double handful and Runaway Song simply quickened past his rivals to win as he liked.

There were only six runners in the race so the form may prove suspect but Runaway Song quickened like a good horse and should he be entered for the Gr3 Gold Vase or Gr3 Gold Cup, he will be a big runner.

Lucky Houdalakis made his trip from the Highveld worth his while as he recorded a double with Dreamland, under De Melo romping to a comfortable win and None Other turning the tables on her Gr1 Woolavington 2000 rivals as S’ Manga Khumalo delivered his filly with a well-time challenge to hold off a late-charging Dawnofanewday to deny Kannemeyer the feature double.

Also impressive on the day was the performance by Isivunguvungu. Richard Fourie rode a confident race on Peter Muscutt’s sprinter and once asked for maximum the gelding responded smartly, drawing clear of the opposition. Not quite as head-strong as in the past, he settled nicely and quickened when asked.

Restricted mainly to 1000m because of his tearaway style, he should now easily get a further furlong and the Gr1 Mercury Sprint must be high on his agenda.

Knockout continued her steady improvement with a comfortable victory in the first. Shifting in from her outside draw, JP Van der Merwe always had things under control in spite of his mount looking around and she kept going well to hold off first-timer Twinklelittlestar who was also learn what racing is all.

De Melo got the phone call early on Friday morning that he had been accepted to ride in Hong Kong next season and he also got a late call-up from Paul Lafferty to partner Question Of Faith with Muzi Yeni indisposed.

Showing plenty of pace from the jump, De Melo had to work hard to keep the colt going but he stuck gamely to his task, holding off Gorgeous Guy with Yannakis weakening late.

Lancaster Bomber is proving to be a loss to the breeding industry as his progeny continue to catch the eye and Dreamland made good on his narrow second at his previous start with a bloodless victory in the third. It was a quick double for De Melo who waited until well past the 400m mark before asking for maximum and his mount quickened away in a matter of strides.

De Melo, again replacing Yeni, took no prisoners on Southern Cape, taking Lafferty’s runner to the front and staying there. He let all move up to challenge but once again waited almost until the last furlong before asking for maximum and the filly responding.

It was good practice for Hong Kong where they seldom hang around.

Beechamwood Boy has come to life this season and recorded his fourth win from his last six starts. Wendy Whitehead has done a remarkable job but gelding was obviously the key to his improved performance as the sons of Eightfold Path are not always the easiest to handle.

There were plenty in with chances approaching the final furlong with favourite USA’s Hope in contention but he proved to be a difficult ride for De Melo who was hunting his fourth straight win as Calvin Habib punched through the middle on Beechamwood Boy.