Silvestre De Sousa continues to set the pace as he attempts to defend his jockeys’ title.
A double for trainer William Knight along with a dead-heat for Ed Dunlop made it a treble on the night at Kempton. The victories on Knight’s pair came at odds of 8/1 and 20/1. It brought an end to a rather lean spell that had gleaned only one winner in the previous 40 rides. Such is the phenomenal work ethic of De Sousa, that the disappointing spell only stretches back eight days. The poor run of form followed a treble at Bath on May 18.
In a trainers’ championship that runs from the end of April until Champions Day in mid-October, the Brazilian is likely to get the ‘leg-up’ on more than any other jock. Not only is he on top of the table for winners, but he is already well clear on the number of mounts. De Sousa has ridden almost 130 horses so far this month, compared to his nearest rival in the title race, Andrea Atzeni, who has ridden just 80.
Mick Channon provides the bulk of his ammunition, but it’s the amount of all-weather opportunities that could prove vital as he looks to follow up on his 2015 success. De Sousa, who had come close to winning in previous seasons, ended last year’s campaign with 132 winners, virtually 40 clear of runner-up William Buick. He was quick to praise his agent Shelley Dwyer, after winning the title, and clearly Dwyer remains a crucial part of De Sousa’s ongoing success.
Born on New Year’s Eve in 1980, the Brazilian rode 27 winners in his first season in Britain back in 2006. The big break came in 2011 when he hooked up with Mark Johnson, an association which led to big wins at Epsom on Derby Day and twice at Royal Ascot. De Sousa almost captured his first jockey’s crown that season, only just failing to overhaul Paul Hanagan in a tight finish.
His spell with Godolphin brought further high-profile victories both in the UK and on the International stage. He collected a pair of Group 1 victories on-board Farhh in 2013 when winning the Lockinge and the Qipco Champion Stakes.
Big race wins have been harder to come by in recent times, though his association with Arabian Queen for David Elsworth has proved to be a major highlight. He rode the filly to a stunning success in the Juddmonte International at York last August, causing a seismic shock on the day when getting the better of the mighty Golden Horn.
De Sousa rode an absolute peach that day, judging the pace of the race to perfection, and probably not getting the credit he deserved. At 50/1, the mare should never have beaten the Derby winner, but she was held back several lengths off the strong pace set by Dick Doughtywylie, and delivered with perfect timing by the Brazilian to hold off Frankie Dettori in a thrilling finish. Her second place finish in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket on her seasonal renewal, shows that she is more than capable of landing another huge prize before too long.
For now, De Sousa’s mind is clearly focused on winning as many races as possible, whether that be a Class 6 at Bath or a group race at Epsom or Ascot. The Champion Jockey retains an insatiable appetite for further success, and should be applauded for his efforts as he maintains a relentless pace in search of that second title.