Later this week, Silvestre De Sousa will return to the scene of one his most memorable victories.
Winning the jockeys’ title has to be the Brazilian’s greatest achievement as a jockey, but surely a close second was the stunning ride he gave Arabian Queen, to win last year’s Juddmonte International, and in the process hand Golden Horn one of only two defeats in his dazzling career.
Winning prestigious events is nothing new to the champion jockey; he won a Qipco Champion Stakes on Farhh and a Dubai World Cup aboard African Story, whilst working for Godolphin. But it was the style of victory in partnership with Arabian Queen that will surely take all the beating.
De Sousa was content to sit a few lengths off Golden Horn’s stablemate and pacemaker Dick Doughtywylie, judging his own fractions to perfection. He rousted the filly to make her challenge some two furlongs from home, gaining valuable lengths on the field. And although Frankie managed to get the Derby winner alongside entering the final furlong, the effort in doing so proved to be his downfall, with De Sousa’s gutsy partner battling on bravely for victory. It was a masterful ride from the Brazilian.
The result was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the race. Arabian Queen is without doubt a classy filly on her day, but the victory owed much to the outstanding ride.
As De Sousa continues to scrap for every winner in his fight to retain the jockeys’ crown, he can look forward to several promising mounts at this week’s York Ebor Festival. How he would love to be back onboard Arabian Queen, attempting a famous double. Unfortunately, she remains on the sidelines, with David Elsworth and his team trying to get to the bottom of her ongoing lameness issues.
Instead, Silvestre waits until Thursday before getting the ‘leg-up’ on another talented filly, in the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks.
Harlequeen is trained by Mick Channon, and has been ridden by the Brazilian in all bar one of her six career starts. She has finished third in her last three outings, with two of those coming in the English and Irish Oaks. The filly is by Canford Cliffs, and is without doubt a class act. She is returning to York, having finished a close fourth in the Musidora Stakes back in May, over an inadequate 10 furlongs.
De Sousa was more than a little annoyed when missing out on her last outing, in a Group 3 at Cork, when flight issues prevented him from making the trip over the Irish Sea. In his Betway Blog of August 5, he spoke of his frustration, when saying: “The airline delayed my flight three times in one day and in the end I couldn’t make it. I know the filly pretty well now and I think I could have ridden her well. Still, she’s improved with every race and I think Mick Channon will win a big race with her soon. Hopefully I’m on board for it.”
He’ll be hoping that Thursday’s ‘Big Race’ is the one in question. De Sousa certainly knows what it takes to win a major race at the Ebor Meeting, especially on a talented filly.