Silvestre de Souza is to warm up for a tilt at the 2012 flat jockey championship by riding at the Dubai Carnival in January and February next year. His first rides since the end of this season at Doncaster, when he finished just four wins behind Paul Hanagan, came in rather different circumstances, in the freezing cold of unglamorous Southwell yesterday.
Unlike some of his colleagues who turn their noses up at the thought of Fibresand and kickback, De Sousa is more than happy to turn out in the East Midlands. Yesterday, he was riding for a long-standing supporter, Roger Fell, for whom he had some of his first rides when arriving in Britain back in 2006. De Sousa said, "I couldn't say no. I've been having great support from him. He said, â€˜I've got three entries, what about some work, I want you to ride.â€™ So I came here more to please him than to please myself."
Fell had a slightly different perspective, more in tune with his Yorkshire background. "He was sat at home, so I said, â€˜Get your arse in gear, do some riding out and come back riding.â€™ I think he were a bit fed up, sitting at home with the wife."
De Sousa has clearly appreciated break he has had over the last month, as in the last couple of weeks of the season he was rushing from afternoon meetings to the floodlights of Wolverhampton and Kempton and clocking up as many as a dozen rides on some days. He also fitted in a flying visit to Australia for the Melbourne Cup. "It takes a lot out of you, especially mentally, because your mind focuses only on (each) race and how to ride the race and how the form of the horse is and what the horses are around you. The last two weeks, at the end of the season, I was flat out."
After a few more rides this weekend De Sousa will be flying home to Brazil for the first time in five years, where his wife and four-year-old son will meet his family for the first time. From there, itâ€™s on to Dubai, where he's been invited to ride some of the Godolphin horses. No doubt the association with Sheikh Mohammed's team is one that will be continued next summer.
Certainly De Sousa will be tuned up and ready for another go at the title, and hoping for a flying start. He is still young enough to be fired up to give everything on every day. "I don't have to waste. I wake up every morning, eight stone. Of course, I get tired at the end of the day but after sleeping, youâ€™re fresh again."