Britain’s champion jockey, Silvestre De Sousa, will be based in Hong Kong this winter. The Brazilian, long one of the most underrated riders in the world, has been granted a licence by the Hong Kong Jockey Club for the four months from November 1 to February 28, it was announced yesterday.
De Sousa will be crowned British champion for the third time and second year in succession at a special presentation on Champions Day at Ascot tomorrow.
Despite these domestic titles, De Sousa is just #76 in the TRC Global Jockeys’ Rankings, which puts him only 12th on the list of riders with Great Britain as their Modal Country (the country where they have had most rides in Group/Graded races over the last three years). This is purely because he does not receive the number of high-level bookings his huge talent warrants.
Little over four years ago, he was world #7. He had just won the Dubai World Cup on African Story for his then employers, Godolphin. His many other triumphs for Sheikh Mohammed’s operation included Farhh’s victory in the 2013 British Champion Stakes.
De Sousa’s arrival will add to a fascinating situation in Hong Kong racing, where many leading jockeys are already braced for the likely return of his fellow Brazilian, Joao Moreira (currently world #15), who turned in his HK licence at the end of last season because he was moving to Japan. However, Moreira failed a written exam on Japanese racing and will not be licensed there after mid-December, although it is believed he will attempt the test again next year.
Hong Kong champion trainer John Size (#11 in the TRC trainers’ standings) has said he intends to apply to have Moreira licensed to ride as his stable jockey.
After the three-time HK champion’s departure, Hong Kong Jockey Club was said to be making efforts to attract star names to compete alongside current champ Zac Purton (world #18). As well as De Sousa, France’s Alexis Badel (world-ranked 134) is expected to be granted a licence. Both jockeys have ridden successfully in Hong Kong previously.