Tag Archive for: Silvestre de Sousa

Winter Power primed for Flying Five assignment

Nunthorpe heroine Winter Power bids to double her Group One tally in the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday.

Tim Easterby’s rapid filly successfully graduated to the highest level with a brilliant display on the Knavesmire last month, comfortably getting the better of subsequent Sprint Cup winner Emaraaty Ana.

Just as he was at York, Brazilian rider Silvestre de Sousa will be on board in Ireland and is relishing the challenge.

He said: “It will be nice to ride her again. I haven’t sat on her since the Nunthorpe.

“She was very good at York. Obviously this is a different track as York is a very easy five furlongs and the Curragh is stiffer.

“She has won at Newmarket, but obviously that was in a much lower grade than what she will be running in this weekend.

“If she turns up in the same form she was at York, she should be competitive anyway.

“She’s entitled to be there.”

The biggest threat to Winter Power could be fellow Yorkshire raider Glass Slippers, who defends her Flying Five crown for Kevin Ryan.

Glass Slippers after winning last year's Flying Five Stakes
Glass Slippers after winning last year’s Flying Five Stakes (PA)

Following her victory of 12 months ago, the daughter of Dream Ahead went on to finish second in the Prix de l’Abbaye before winning at the Breeders’ Cup meeting.

The five-year-old has only run once so far this season – finishing a promising third in the King George Stakes at Goodwood in July.

“She’s declared and is going there in great form. We’re looking forward to running her,” said Ryan.

“It’s a Group One, so it’s going to be a strong race.

“This has always been the plan for her, so fingers crossed.”

Archie Watson’s ultra-consistent colt Dragon Symbol will take on Winter Power once again with Oisin Murphy on board.

“I can’t wait. He’s freshened up very well and it looks the right race for him. He’s drawn beside Winter Power and I hope he can turn the tables,” said Murphy.

The David Evans-trained Rohaan and Karl Burke’s Royal Ascot winner Significantly complete a formidable British challenge.

“He’s in great form. It’s a big ask, it’s one of the strongest renewals I’ve seen of this race. But he’s only a three-year-old, we’ll let him take his chance and I’m sure we’ve got a good sprinter for next season even if he doesn’t win,” said Burke.

The home team is headed by Joe Murphy’s Gustavus Weston and Mooneista from Jack Davison’s yard.

The latter was last seen running out an impressive winner of the Group Two Sapphire Stakes over the course and distance two months ago.

Davison said: “There’s not a bother on her. Everything is A1 and we’re ready to roll.

“She’s a progressive sprinter who obviously won a Group Two easily last time out.

“We have stronger competition this time around, but we’re looking forward to having a go.”

Frenetic needs to bounce back to form
Frenetic needs to bounce back to form (Brian Lawless/PA)

Colin Keane rides the Ger Lyons-trained Frenetic, who is fitted with blinkers for the first time.

“She was a very good juvenile. She bombed out on her first run of the year in Cork on slow ground, but the boss got her back to produce one of her best performances back in Cork in handicap company, carrying top weight against older horses,” said the rider.

“At Tipperary the last day, she was probably drawn on the wrong side and the ground was a fraction slow where we were. We were probably on the worst ground and she never felt comfortable.

“She’d have to bounce back to her best to be getting involved, but if she did, she’d have every chance.”

Island Brave battles to Old Borough Cup victory

Island Brave lived up to his name to claim victory in a thrilling renewal of the Betfair Exchange Old Borough Cup at Haydock.

Heather Main’s stable star had not managed to get his head in front in seven previous outings this season, but a change of tactics brought about a change in fortunes on Merseyside.

Ridden from the front by Silvestre de Sousa, the 10-1 shot looked booked for minor honours at best when passed by the strong-travelling 4-1 favourite Noble Masquerade inside the final two furlongs.

But Island Brave was not done with as he battled back tenaciously to retake the lead and he had just enough in reserve to hold the fast-finishing pair of Alright Sunshine and Nicholas T at bay by half a length and a nose respectively.

Winning owner Donald Kerr said: “That was a fantastic – a great result.

“We dropped him back in trip as it was good to firm ground and that’s what he wants.

“I thought Silvestre gave him a brilliant ride. I was a little bit worried when the other horse passed him, but he fought back.

“We usually hold him up. I think this is the first time he’s made the running since he won his maiden at Lingfield (in 2017).

“This is his 11th win. We’ve had him since he was a breeze-up horse and he’s been a great horse for the yard.”

Golden Flame (9-1) benefited from a power-packed ride from Joe Fanning when winning the £100,000 “My Odds Boost” On Betfair Handicap.

Down the field in the Melrose Handicap at York last month, Mark Johnston’s charge bounced back to form in this smaller field – digging deep when pressed by Praiano to prevail by a length.

Fanning said: “It’s nice fast ground and he was able to bowl along there and was happy in front.

“He stayed really well and I was never in danger really – he was always doing enough.”

Paddy Power cut Golden Flame to 20-1 from 33-1 for the Cesarewitch at Newmarket next month.

Golden Flame on his way to victory at Haydock
Golden Flame on his way to victory at Haydock (David Davies/PA)

Johnston’s assistant, Jock Bennett, said: “He was the last one off the bridle there and he just had to stick it out.

“He won early on (this season), we’ve aimed at some of the bigger handicaps and he’s come good to day in a small field and getting his own way from the front.

“He’s only a three-year-old, but like anything of ours, they’re always better when they go up in trip.

“It looked as though he stayed every inch of the mile and three-quarters and looks like he will get further.

“The Cesarewitch will be a different sort of race on soft ground. I think we’re a long way off that, so we’ll just go home and reassess him and take it from there.”

Flotus powers back to winning ways in Ripon feature

Flotus bounced back to form with an impressive victory in the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Ripon Champion Two Yrs Old Trophy Stakes.

Joint-trainers Simon and Ed Crisford were winning the Bank Holiday feature at the North Yorkshire course for the second year in succession – while Silvestre de Sousa was back on board for the first time since Flotus was an equally emphatic winner on her debut at Goodwood in May.

The daughter of Starspangledbanner had been partnered by Frankie Dettori and then James Doyle in the intervening months, but finished well beaten on all three starts at up to Group Two company.

De Sousa tracked across from an awkward draw in stall two this time, claiming the stands rail and forging ever further clear to win at 6-1 – by four and a half lengths from the consistent Hellomydarlin.

After her second career victory, Flotus was halved in price by Betfair into 8-1 for the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes over this same six-furlong trip at Newmarket at the end of next month

The key, De Sousa suspects, is to allow her to have her own way and demonstrate her natural speed throughout.

“I think perhaps they’ve probably been trying to ride a race on her, and she’s very ‘on’ and (just) wants to get on with the job,” he said.

“I think it maybe suits her to not complicate things. I just let her be where she wanted to be.

“She’s a really talented filly, and when I won on her first time I really liked her.

“But not every story is a fairytale – so I lost the ride.”

De Sousa was understandably all smiles after renewing the partnership successfully, and extending his 100 per cent record on Flotus.

“I’m glad I’m back on her,” he added.

“She’s a typical sprinter, just likes to get on with the job, and I didn’t complicate things today.

“Drawn two is never ideal (here), especially with speedy horses on your left.

“But she jumped smart, she travelled and she quickened (again) when I wanted her to.

“From halfway, I thought I was a winner.”

Garden Oasis was a brave winner of the Ripon Rowels Handicap as he overcame an over-reach in the final furlong to beat Kettle Hill by a nose in a thrilling tussle to the line.

Tim Easterby’s course specialist was following up his Ripon victory two weeks ago, and also accounting for the runner-up for a second time after a head separated them at York last month.

David Allan challenged two furlongs out this time – and despite sensing the 9-1 shot was in slight discomfort, he was able to eke out the required response to just get the better of William Haggas’ favourite again.

Easterby said: “He’s a wonderful little horse – he really tries his heart out, and he loves it round here.

“The ridges (at this course) and all that don’t bother him.”

Garden Oasis proved himself full of heart as he ran through the pain barrier.

“He struck into the bulb of his heel before the half-furlong pole,” added Easterby.

“Dave said he felt him falter, and thought he’d pulled a shoe off, and it was quite sore when he came in.

“But he’s fine, he’s sound.

“He loves this track, just acts here. That’s a good horse, the second – but he’s really tough and genuine and did really well to win (after over-reaching).”

Garden Oasis just prevailed on the far side
Garden Oasis just prevailed on the far side (PA)

Tom Marquand had to settle for second once more on Kettle Hill, but senses the four-year-old is still improving – and he did not have to wait long for a winner anyway on his trip north, taking the Examworks UK Supporting Wooden Spoon Maiden Stakes on Haggas’ 6-4 joint-favourite Pride Of Priory.

Marquand said of Kettle Hill: “It’s disappointing he didn’t win. He ran a superb race up at York last time, and I thought today would be his day.

“But he had earplugs in, and sometimes it can be a little bit of a lag when you go for them, with them on – and I think, while it helped him relax, it’s probably undone him in the last half-furlong.

“Without a doubt, he’s still improving. We’re still learning plenty about him on the way through, and there’ll be plenty more to come.

“You have to come, whether they’re winners or not. It was a solid run in defeat, and he’s a really nice horse to go forward with.”

As for Pride Of Priory, he added: “This chap, I hope this is the start of his forward progression.

“He’s had a couple of runs on the all-weather, bumping into some speedy types – and he’s not speedy, he’s a lovely galloping horse – so I hope today’s experience will him a lot of good.”

Winter Power storms to Nunthorpe glory

Winter Power gave a career-best display as she blitzed her way to victory in the Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes at York.

Tim Easterby’s flying machine won for the third time on the Knavesmire this season with a devastating performance over five furlongs, as she defeated strongly-fancied rivals from America and France.

US raider Golden Pal was quickly away for Frankie Dettori from stall one on the far side – but Winter Power was also up with the speed from her draw in six.

Golden Pal’s run petered out disappointingly before the final furlong, but Winter Power (9-1) sustained her gallop for Silvestre de Sousa all the way to the line to win by a length and a quarter.

Emaraaty Anna (40-1) was second, with Dragon Symbol (4-1) half a length away in third.

Suesa, the 9-4 favourite for French trainer Francois Rohaut, was fourth, but Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal was only seventh.

Great Habton-based Easterby – whose family is synonymous with York – said: “As long as we went straight and didn’t mess about, she had a chance.

“We didn’t go anywhere else, we resisted going anywhere but she’s just brilliant, it doesn’t matter where she goes.

“It’s taken a long time to get to a race like this, you have to give them time and you have to be patient.

“With her, she’s just a superstar, you don’t train her and you don’t train her hard.

“When she came up there she was just on her toes a little bit and she needs to settle and not do too much.

“I’m so thrilled for the owners (King Power Racing), the investment that goes into these horses is incredible.”

He added: “We’ll just enjoy today, I’ve never been to Del Mar (Breeders’ Cup), we’ll keep her for this next year.

“You’ve got to get them home and see, even though she’s won easily, she’s had a hard race.”

De Sousa said: “She’s unbelievably fast, when she hits the gates right she’s really good.

“She did that here first time this year and I thought I hadn’t sat on anything as fast as her.

“She was very good, on a track like this she just hit her stride straight away.

“I’m just pleased for the King Power team, they have put so much effort into these races.

“They have a great horse for the future, this is her first Group One so hopefully we can keep it going.

“There were no orders, I spoke to the team who said to keep it simple, which is how I like to ride.

“I was confident, I was riding for the best place possible and trying to win the race.

“She’s in great form and she was the best on the day.

“I could see Frankie, he was in front for the first furlong where she was going too well.”

Kevin Ryan was thrilled with the run of Emaraaty Ana, another horse trained locally.

He said: “The Hamilton race gave him confidence. Passing the two-pole I knew they’d gone hard and it was a question of if they could keep it up as I knew he’d stay on strong.

A picture to savour for the Winter Power team
A picture to savour for the Winter Power team (Nigel French/PA)

“Fair do’s to the winner, she’s incredible. She probably hit a brick wall, but it was too close to the line for us.

“Ours is a very good horse. This fellow is as good as I’ve had. He’s probably a better six-furlong horse, we’ve run him over five to get him to relax but it leaves the rest of the season open.

“He’s probably a bit ground dependent and needs it quick, he’s in the Abbaye which might suit but he’s also in at Haydock and Champions Day which could come up as bogs so we’ll see.

“I’m delighted, I was confident he’d run a big one and he has. He’s only young, he’ll get better.”

But a despondent Ward said of Golden Pal: “Frankie said he was waiting for the turn.

“I made no secret of it that I was very confident coming into the race, but the winner ran a tremendous race and we’re disappointed.

“I think so highly of this colt of course I’m disappointed, it just wasn’t his day.

“I still think he’s a tremendous racehorse. We’ll see if any answers come up when we get him back and see what we find. We were just beaten.

“From everything I’ve seen of this colt, he’s just awesome so when he runs a race like today it’s a head scratcher. We’ll see what transpires, I haven’t lost faith in him.”

Foxes Tales’ Rose of Lancaster victory puts Champion Stakes on agenda

Andrew Balding is considering a potential tilt at the Qipco Champion Stakes with Foxes Tales following the three-year-old’s gritty victory in an attritional renewal of the MansionBet Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock.

With likely market leader Real World one of three non-runners because of the rain-softened ground, Foxes Tales was the 5-4 favourite in the hands of Silvestre de Sousa.

Majestic Dawn led the six runners into the home straight, with last year’s winner Extra Elusive initially his nearest pursuer – racing nearest to the stands rail under Hollie Doyle.

However, Extra Elusive faded tamely – while Majestic Dawn did his best to fend off the challenges of both Foxes Tales and eventual runner-up Fancy Man.

In the end, Majestic Dawn had to give best – with Foxes Tales finishing strongest to land Group Three victory by three-quarters of a length.

Balding said: “It was an excellent performance – he gritted it out well and he’s a horse who’s improving and should hopefully have a good future.

“He showed his class today, and I think he was well on top at the end. Although he was the first one off the bridle, he really found for pressure – which was great.

“His options are going to be a little bit tight moving forward. But he’s in the Champion Stakes at the end of the year, which is a possibility after showing he can handle that kind of ground today.

“That would be another big step up in class, so we’ll find something between now and then – hopefully a Group Two race somewhere.”

Alounak lifts Old Newton Cup at Haydock

Alounak bounced back to form to claim an impressive victory in the bet365 Old Newton Cup at Haydock.

A Group Three winner in Germany and runner-up in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, Andrew Balding’s charge appeared dangerously well handicapped on the pick of his form.

However, he lined up for this prestigious handicap with plenty to prove, having never threatened to land a telling blow on either of his two previous outings this season at Ascot.

Sent off at 14-1 in the hands of three-times champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa, Alounak arrived on the scene travelling powerfully inside the final two furlongs before powering three lengths clear in the rain-softened ground.

Win O’Clock narrowly beat my Frankel to the runner-up spot.

“He’s done it very well out there,” said the winning rider.

“He travelled really well throughout the race. I was confident when I went back through his form as I knew he would go on the soft ground.

“I don’t think he’s at his best in this ground, but he’d run some good races in the past and he’d come down in the handicap, so it was all suitable for him.”

Chil Chil too hot in Chipchase

Chil Chil came with a rattling late run to take the Group Three honours in the William Hill Chipchase Stakes at Newcastle.

Andrew Balding’s five-year-old mare had plenty to do with a furlong left, but she produced a telling turn of foot when given the office by Silvestre de Sousa.

Storming past long-time leader Good Effort, Chil Chil (15-2) galloped on strongly to land the spoils by three-quarters of a length with Diligent Harry a further half-length away in third place.

Good Effort made the running from his stands’ rail draw while the well-fancied Diligent Harry was up with the pace in the centre of the track.

The 5-2 favourite Khuzaam appeared to have very chance but never threatened when dropped down to six furlongs for the first time.

Good Effort kept up the gallop but had no answer to Chil Chil, who was cut to 20-1 from 40-1 for the July Cup with Betfair and Paddy Power and 7-1 from 14-1 for the Stewards’ Cup with both firms.

Balding said: “I’m delighted, she’s a mare who has improved a lot since last year.

“She’s very effective on a sound surface and I’m delighted she’s now a now Group-race winner.

“We couldn’t run her in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot last week because of the soft ground and it’s worked out well.”

On future plans, he added: “I think we’ve probably blown our cover for the Stewards’ Cup now given the weights haven’t been published yet.

“If the ground came up fast, I think we’ll probably have a crack at the July Cup.”

De Sousa was also impressed, adding: “She’s a very talented mare. She has disappointed a few times, but when she’s right she’s very good.

“She was very lean early on last year but she’s different now, she’s grown up a lot mentally and physically. Andrew has done a great job, shown a lot of patience with her, and it’s paid off today.”

Birthday sparks Redcar celebrations

Good Birthday gained handsome compensation for being relegated from first place at Newmarket by lifting the Racing TV Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar.

Andrew Balding’s five-year-old was demoted to second for bumping initial runner-up Master The Stars, but there was no problem this time.

Silvestre de Sousa always had Good Birthday (13-2) close to the pace set by First Impression, sitting patiently before making his move over two furlongs out.

He kicked for home before the final furlong and held the staying-on 100-30 favourite Makram to land the spoils by half a length.

“I’m really pleased. Obviously he was a little unlucky last time. The visor has really helped him and Silvestre has given him a lovely ride,” said Balding.

“I’m thrilled to win an important race. I won it early in my training career (with Chantaco in 2006) and I remember my dad winning it years ago. It’s a nice race to win.

“They’ve done a good job with the prize money and it’s worth going up there.”

Balding will now look at more big handicaps such as the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes and the John Smith’s Cup for the gelding, owned by King Power Racing.

“It just depends. If he stays further we might look at the Duke of Edinburgh at Ascot, but he’ll get a John Smith’s Cup entry. We’ll just see what the handicapper does.”

De Sousa was completing a double after steering 4-6 favourite Greek Kodiac to victory for Michael Bell in the Join Racing TV Now Selling Stakes.

Runninwild stunned punters when striking at 200-1 in the Racing TV Profits Returned To Racing Median Auction Maiden Stakes on his third start after two uninspiring runs.

The Ann Duffield-trained three-year-old had produced little on the track at either Thirsk or Carlisle, but demonstrated some of the spark he has shown at home under different ground conditions.

Always close up, Runninwild asserted in the final furlong to win cosily by three-quarters of a length from newcomer Maywake under David Allan.

Runninwild scores at Redcar at the massive odds of 200-1
Runninwild scores at Redcar at the massive odds of 200-1 (Tim Goode/PA)

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a 200-1 shot in my life. I’ve had a few placed horses at really big odds, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a winner at that price,” said Duffield.

“We’re not surprised he’s won because we’ve always liked the horse. It’s just that he had a poor introduction in his first couple of runs.

“His first run at Thirsk he fell out of the boxes and the jockey couldn’t get him motivated. It’s so difficult when they’re so far behind. He’s a big, gangly horse.

“Then the second time he ran, David (Allan) gave him a lovely ride except the ground was soft and claggy at Carlisle and he hated it, so today was the first opportunity to show what he might do on the track.

“At home he’s always shown promise, so we’re not surprised he’s won. I’m more surprised he was allowed to go off at 200-1. Having said that, he did have two ordinary runs to start with.”

The North Yorkshire handler believes Runninwild has the scope to build on this performance.

“He’s a big, gangly horse so he might keep improving. That’s what we’re hoping,” she said.

“As for his distance you could drop him in trip. George (Duffield, husband) rides him at home and he’s always liked him. He’s of the opinion we could stay at six furlongs or drop down to five. He has got plenty of speed and he’s still learning.”

There was a 100-1 winner at Leicester where the Mick Appleby-trained Katie’s Kitten got off the mark at the 13th attempt in the Graham The Plumbers’ Merchant Fillies’ Handicap in the hands of 3lb claimer Theodore Ladd.

Seventh heaven for Stoute as Queen powers to Middleton success

Queen Power took Sir Michael Stoute’s record of Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Stakes winners to seven when powering home in the Group Two contest at York.

The five-year-old mare, owned by King Power Racing, pulled away from her four rivals in the closing stages to win for the first time in two years, after a string of consistent efforts in smart company.

Chamade set a reasonable gallop, with Queen Power settled nicely in third place for Silvestre de Sousa.

Making her move early in the straight, the 6-4 favourite overtook the pace-setter and pulled away to score by eight lengths. Chamade stuck her task gamely to hang on for second place.

Assistant trainer James Savage said: “We thought she was going to be a really nice filly two years ago.

“Today everything went right for her, she relaxed and got into a lovely rhythm early doors which meant everything went very smooth.

“She’s always threatened to do something like that and it’s great to see her do it.

“She’s a Group Two winner now regardless, so we’ll try to improve on that. She’s going to make a fantastic broodmare so that is in the back of our minds, but we’ll try to improve on this.”

De Sousa said: “A combination of the ground and the pace of the race all contributed. She travelled nicely and I never felt in danger, she settled really well. When I asked her she put the race to bed very quickly.

“I think 10 furlongs is her trip, but that’s up to Sir Michael over where she runs.”

Ralph Beckett, who trained Queen Power to win a Newmarket maiden as a two-year-old, said of the runner-up: “She ran a really sound race.

“As ever, while it’s lovely ground, it’s a shade on the quick side for her – she’s better with the mud flying.

“I’m very pleased with her and ground will dictate our plans going forward.”

Roger Varian was pleased with the performance of third-placed Cabaletta.

He said: “She ran a nice race and looks like she’s crying out to go back up in trip.

Silvestre de Sousa and Queen Power stretch clear
Silvestre de Sousa and Queen Power stretch clear (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I thought for her seasonal debut it was a nice run. She was little bit fizzy and a little bit gassy in the preliminaries and she’ll be better for the run.

“She galloped all the way to the line, it was just that when they quickened she didn’t have the tactical speed to go with them.

“She stayed on and and hopefully when she goes back up in trip she’ll be finding the winner’s enclosure again.

“She’ll have various options, including the Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock.”

Bangkok bags Easter Classic honours

Bangkok asserted in the closing stages to land the odds in the Betway Easter Classic All-Weather Middle Distance Championships at Lingfield.

Andrew Balding’s five-year-old showed he had recovered from his trip to Riyadh for the world’s richest race, the Saudi Cup, six weeks ago to justify his short price.

Bangkok (5-6 favourite) had to work hard, but he was a willing partner for Silvestre de Sousa.

Bangkok following his Easter Classic victory
Bangkok following his Easter Classic victory (Neil Morrice/PA)

Making his move just before the home turn, De Sousa closed the door on his main market rival, Forest Of Dean. That have him a crucial edge, but Bangkok still had to catch Palavecino.

His touch of class and stamina enabled Bangkok to get the verdict by a neck from the 8-1 shot.

It was an All-Weather Championships double for Balding, who won the Marathon with Ranch Hand, and an across-the-card treble after the victory of Napper Tandy at Newcastle.

Bangkok (left) proved too good for Palavecino
Bangkok (left) proved too good for Palavecino (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Balding said: “I thought Silvestre gave him a masterful ride in keeping Forest Of Dean in at the right time.

“He’s a very tough horse that has travelled all over the place in recent months, and it’s great that he can bring his A-game to the table today.

“He hasn’t quite hit the heights we thought he might after he won the Classic Trial at Sandown, but he settles so well that I think he might get a mile and a half now.

“Silvestre said we should drop him back to a mile, but the most likely race for him is the Huxley Stakes at Chester, as long as the ground is all right.

“Bangkok only has a Listed penalty, so he is eligible for lots of races including Group Threes without a penalty, so we will have a lot of fun trying to pick races which he can be competitive in.”

Fit again De Sousa delighted to return at Lingfield

Silvestre de Sousa is raring to get back in the saddle at Lingfield on Wednesday when he returns following a three-month absence.

The former champion jockey had planned to have surgery on a troublesome shoulder injury in December, but the operation had to be delayed when he contracted Covid-19.

He returns on Always Fearless for Richard Hannon in the Bombardier “March To Your Own Drum” Handicap .

Royal Ascot winner Art Power (leading) is among Silvestre de Sousa's leading hopes for more success this summer
Royal Ascot winner Art Power (leading) is among Silvestre de Sousa’s leading hopes for more success this summer (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I’m really looking forward to getting back at it – it’s been a while,” said the Brazilian.

“At the time I was supposed to have my operation I caught Covid – and by the time I was better, they then couldn’t do it for a few more weeks.

“Basically I missed my whole winter, so it was frustrating. I was planning to rehab and then go to Hong Kong and Dubai before the season starts here.

“On the other side I’ve spent a lot more time with my family than I would usually, so that has been nice. It’s been different, but good to spend the winter at home for a change.

“I can build myself back up to full fitness before the season really begins. Last season I was in a bit of pain most days – now I should be back to normal.”

Looking ahead to the summer, De Sousa, who is retained by King Power Racing, picked out one horse he is looking forward to riding the most.

“You’d have to say Art Power is the main horse this year, he’s top of the list,” he said.

“When you look at the races he ran last year when he was just a three-year-old, being beaten just a length on Champions Day, you’d have to think he can improve again.”

Johnny Drama edges Wild Flower thriller

Johnny Drama completed a four-timer with a narrow victory in Kempton’s Listed Unibet Wild Flower Stakes.

Andrew Balding’s King Power Racing five-year-old held on tenaciously when tackled deep in the final furlong by Sinjaari, who was moving back up in trip for last year’s winning combination of William Haggas and Tom Marquand.

Silvestre De Sousa always had Johnny Drama in a prominent position, close to the pace set by Sextant.

The 15-8 winner took over just after the Kempton cutaway, with market rival Sinjaari still back in sixth place, and established enough of an advantage to prevail by a short-head even as the 6-4 favourite closed with menace.

Sextant was a length further back in third.

De Sousa was riding his 99th winner of 2020 on the much-improved Johnny Drama.

He told Racing TV:  “I got myself on the inside, a mile out, and I felt the pace was just steadying up.

“But when I came to the junction, he was rolling – and I couldn’t see any dangers coming, until the last 50 yards I saw the other horse near me.

“But he fought, and really wanted to win tonight.

“I’ve found he’s really got better since he’s had his tongue tie. He still struggles a bit with his breathing – you have to fill him up every furlong – but when you ask him a question, he really wants to do it for you.”

Diamond sparkles to land Listed contest at Newmarket

Ventura Diamond capped off her season in style with a tenacious success in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Bosra Sham” Fillies’ Stakes at Newmarket.

The Richard Fahey-trained Dandy Man filly, who was making her seventh appearance of the campaign, saved her best until last by striking gold in the six-furlong Listed prize to form the opening leg of a double for Silvestre de Sousa.

Hitting the front approaching the final quarter-of-a-mile, the 7-2 joint favourite showed plenty of heart to get the better of a sustained late battle with Meu Amor before scoring by a neck.

Tom Palin, spokesman for winning owners Middleham Park Racing, said: “She has got a wonderful attitude and there are plenty of times she could have thrown the towel in there and wanted to quit.

“Going down, Silvestre didn’t feel the same at Leicester, so you can mark that run up massively as she still managed to do that and show that willing attitude.

“We’ve been quite hard on her in the last two months going to Doncaster, Redcar, Leicester and here and they were all in soft ground, but she has got that attitude and she keeps going, but I think we’ve now seen enough of her.”

A return to the Rowley Mile could be on the cards for Ventura Diamond next season, with Palin earmarking the Group Three Nell Gwyn Stakes as a possible target.

He added: “We will pop her away and dream of something sexy in the spring.

“We’ve not tried her over seven yet and whether we keep her to sprinting, we will see, but it is a lovely problem to have in six months time, working out what Group Three we go for.

“She could be the type for a Nell Gwyn or Fred Darling, and she deserves being pitched into something like that.”

Hughie Morrison who was on the mark with Whitehaven in the Proud To Support British Racing Handicap
Hughie Morrison who was on the mark with Whitehaven in the Proud To Support British Racing Handicap (Mike Egerton/PA)

Whitehaven (11-10) followed up back-to-back wins at Yarmouth to complete De Sousa’s brace when prevailing by five and a half lengths in the Proud To Support British Racing Handicap.

De Sousa said of the Hughie Morrison-trained winner: “He did really well with the low weight. From a mile out I let him stretch and he loves this ground.

“I was going the speed I wanted to go and the horse responded well.”

Roger Varian celebrated a winner with his first runner for owners Opulence Thoroughbreds thanks to the debut success of Beau Jardine (4-1), who landed the Follow MansionBet On Instagram British EBF Novice Stakes by three-quarters of a length.

The Newmarket handler said: “He has done a couple of bits of work on the soft turf and he has gone well through the ground, so I didn’t think that would be a problem for him.

“Eoin Walsh said he was a bit green early on from the gates, but apart from that he tracked into the race well and did it nicely, so I’m pleased with him.

“I’m very pleased for the owners, Opulence Thoroughbreds, who are run by George Gill and he is the first horse they’ve had with me, so I’m delighted they have got off to a winning start.”

Ainsdale made light work of testing conditions on his return to six furlongs to open his account for the campaign in the MansionBet Watch And Bet Conditions Stakes.

Clifford Lee, winning rider, said of the Karl Burke trained 11-8 shot: “He loves these conditions.

“We didn’t go quick early doors which suited him as he does run over five, but he has done it well in the end. “

Power is with former champion De Sousa at Newmarket

Silvestre de Sousa rode a Power-packed 214-1 treble at Newmarket on Friday – with all his winners owned by his King Power Racing bosses.

King Power was the brainchild of Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who tragically died in a helicopter crash two years ago.

Former champion De Sousa got off the mark for the afternoon aboard Tim Easterby’s filly Winter Power in the Group Three Newmarket Academy Godolphin Beacon Project Cornwallis Stakes.

Following up a recent win in a Listed race at Ayr, the daughter of Bungle Inthejungle ran out a clear-cut three-length winner at 10-1.

“She won quite well at Ayr and has bounced back in great form. She has done really well and won very easily,” said De Sousa.

Happy Power comes away to win the Challenge Stakes
Happy Power comes away to win the Challenge Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Happy Power (7-2) was next on the scoresheet for the Brazilian, in the Group Two Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards Challenge Stakes.

Andrew Balding’s grey was winning for the third time in succession.

“I was really disappointed with him at the beginning of the year as I thought I had a really good horse for this year, but he has just taken a long time to get going. He now feels like he is flying and is in top form,” said De Sousa.

De Sousa then closed the card in great fashion when winning on Roger Varian’s Angel Power (100-30 favourite) in the Group Three Darley Pride Stakes.

Trebles for jockeys are not that rare – but it is certainly out of the ordinary for all three to be Group races and all to come with similar names.

Many of the King Power string have ‘Power’ in their name and it was undoubtedly a day for De Sousa to remember fondly.

He said: “It is good for the boss and King Power Racing.

“I never get many rides in Group races so when they come I have to make the most of them.”

Power too strong for Challenge rivals

Happy Power streaked clear of Pogo up the hill to win the Godolphin Stud & Stable Staff Awards Challenge Stakes at Newmarket.

Silvestre de Sousa, already on the scoreboard with Winter Power in the Cornwallis Stakes, was keen not to let Pogo get loose on the front end.

That looked a wise decision as the front two dictated the race throughout, with De Sousa always looking confident on Andrew Balding’s grey.

The 7-2 chance arrived at HQ on the back of winning his two most recent races, at Salisbury and a Group Three at Goodwood.

Up in grade again to a Group Two, he assumed control from Pogo with over a furlong to run and streaked clear up the hill to win by a length and a half.

Glorious Journey stayed on from the rear to claim third.

De Sousa said: “I was really disappointed with him at the beginning of the year as I thought I had a really good horse for this year, but he has just taken a long time to get going. He now feels like he is flying and is in top form.

“Andrew’s horses are running well and he is just following the wagon. We’ve always liked him and Andrew had found a couple of easy options for him, but today he has proved he is a nice horse.

“We thought we had him right at the beginning of the year, but he is a horse that has probably taken a long time to get 100 per cent fit. He ran really well first time, then his next couple of runs were disappointing. He wasn’t tailed off, but he wasn’t good enough to win – since Salisbury it looks like he has found his way.

“He likes the ground. It is soft and on the slow side and it maybe just tired the other horses out. That race at Salisbury made you realise there was a little more in the tank than what he had been giving.

“Mentally there is always huge improvement when a horse wins their first race easily. When they come home and enjoy the race, you know there is improvement.

“He is in top form and he probably shouldn’t miss the chance to go there (Champions Sprint at Ascot on October 17).”

Balding believes a swift return at Ascot next week is a “possibility”.

He said: “I’m delighted with that. It has just taken him a little bit of time to find his feet at the beginning of the season, but that is three excellent wins now and he has really got his mojo back.

“He got stuck in the ground at Haydock first time out and we probably ran him a bit quick back on his third start, but he has come right now and is high class.

“He was fourth in the Sussex Stakes last year and he won a Ganton very well, so we knew he was a talented horse – he just had that slow start to the year.

“We will confirm him for the Champions Sprint on Monday and make a decision later in the week, but it’s a possibility. I think a stiff six on soft ground would be fine for him.”