Silvestre de Sousa hit peak form here three days before the start of the Flat jockeys’ championship, kicking home the first three winners, including the Sagaro Stakes, and being beaten just a neck on his other ride. As is so often the case for De Sousa, who still seems underemployed for a jockey of his talent, his mounts were not strongly fancied and won despite odds of 12-1, 15-2 and 5-1, but even such a productive day was not enough to induce optimism in the Brazilian.
“Zero” was his response when asked to rate his chance of recovering the champion jockey’s title of 2015, which Jim Crowley took off him last year. When reporters protested, a smiling De Sousa insisted: “I’m telling you, I should be a 100-1 shot. I just fill in the gaps for the other jocks.
“I’m not targeting anything for this year but I want to ride as many winners as I can and make as many contacts as I can make. I hope to keep everybody happy. And I wish I can pick a nice horse to take me to the big places.”
De Sousa may already have found such a horse, having landed the mount on Dream Castle in Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas. Previously partnered by Oisin Murphy, the colt started favourite for the Greenham but had nothing left when passed close home by Barney Roy. His trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, hopes that the fitting of a hood will help him settle through the first part of the Guineas and finish more strongly, but De Sousa appears less than optimistic on the subject, while describing Dream Castle as “a nice ride to have”.
“I’m a 33-1 shot or about there,” he said. When told that the betting market takes a sunnier view of Dream Castle, who is half those odds, De Sousa said: “Well, that’s the price I give it. He ran real well in the Greenham. You have to see if he’s going to stay. It looks like he had a lot of speed early on and he just fell away in the last furlong.
“I rode him at home and he feels like he’s a seven-furlong horse. The Guineas is only once a year, so you have to go for that and after that we’ll decide where you go next with him.”
Getting the mount on Dream Castle is the latest sign of a rapprochement between De Sousa and Bin Suroor, who fell out three years ago when the trainer replaced the jockey with Kieren Fallon aboard a Derby prospect. “I was there before and they decided to bring another jockey in, but we had a fantastic time together,” De Sousa said. “I’m very glad he’s going to put me up again.” He has no ride in Sunday’s 1,000 Guineas and jokingly said: “If Aidan O’Brien wants to give me a call, I’m available.”
Sweet Selection’s battling success in the Sagaro was the highlight of De Sousa’s day, although there may have been additional sweetness in getting first run on a Frankie Dettori-ridden favourite and winning by a short-head half an hour earlier. Hughie Morrison said Sweet Selection will now be trained for the Gold Cup at the Royal meeting here next month and her odds for that race halved to 20-1.
There was an upbeat bulletin about Barney Roy when his trainer, Richard Hannon, was among the winners here. “Barney did his last bit of work yesterday, he worked very well,” he said. “Please don’t put this as if I’m being bullish, because I hate that, but I think he has a good chance.
“It’s an excellent race. I can’t wait. It’s gonna be a cracking race: four unbeaten horses going there [Barney Roy, Churchill, Al Wukair and Eminent]. It’s great, that’s what the Guineas should be about.”
Churchill remains a hot favourite at 11-8 and several firms shortened him again after Blue Point, a horse he beat when last seen in October, won on his seasonal reappearance here. Charlie Appleby said Blue Point would run next in the Commonwealth Cup, for which he is 5-1 second favourite behind Caravaggio.
Thursday’s tips, by Chris Cook
2.00 Our Little Pony 2.30 Bella Alissa 3.00 Daira Bridge 3.30 Manatee Bay 4.00 Snookered 4.30 Gilgamesh 5.00 Rita’s Man
2.10 Pillar Of Society 2.40 Flowers On Venus 3.10 Author’s Dream 3.40 Synodic 4.10 Endless Charm 4.40 Welsh Rose 5.10 Pearly Prince (nb)
2.20 Mister Showman 2.50 Sam Red 3.20 Shurbland 3.50 Adarenna 4.20 Kayla 4.50 Brown Bear 5.25 Rose Tree
5.30 Dubai Celebrity 6.00 Banny’s Lad 6.30 Mitcd 7.00 Gambol 7.30 I’m Still Waiting 8.00 Scorpion Star 8.30 Brecon Hill
6.10 Longroom 6.40 Benjamin Thomas 7.10 Vizier 7.40 Cosmic Tigress 8.10 Desert Ace 8.40 Tanawar (nap)