AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

SILVESTRE DE SOUSA: Champions Day Special

So, the season comes to an end at Ascot on Saturday with QIPCO British Champions Day. Unfortunately I won’t be crowned Stobart Champion Jockey this season, but I am genuinely delighted for Oisin Murphy. He is a really good guy who works hard and deserves the success. Congratulations Oisin from me and my family!

Looking back on the season, there have been plenty of highs and lows. There have been a number of memorable days and I’m hugely grateful to King Power Racing for giving me the opportunity to ride so many special horses. It’s also been a tough season and I guess losing Beat The Bank at Ascot was particularly hard. He was a fantastic warrior and came so close to winning the Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal meeting. His loss was a particularly hard pill to swallow. I’ve also battled with injuries and am still shrugging off the effects of my fall at Chelmsford. But, that’s the life of a jockey and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

As for me now, I’ll soon be heading back over to Hong Kong for another stint riding over there in the winter. This will be my last Star Sports blog for a while, but I’d like to thank them and you, hope you have enjoyed reading them.

Anyway, looking ahead to Ascot and it’s been a pretty wet week meaning it will be hard work on the straight course. The inner course they have switched too shouldn’t be so bad for the long-distance races. I’ve got five nice rides to look forward to…



DONJUAN TRIUMPHANT – 1.35pm (Champions Sprint)

All the rain they have had this week is perfect for my mount Donjuan Triumphant who won’t mind it if it carries on raining! He was third in this 12 months ago to Sands Of Mali and prepped for this with a good second to Cape Byron here earlier in the month. He tends to run well at this time of year, likes Ascot and handles really bad ground, so he has plenty in his favour and should go well. There are plenty of dangers in a big field with the likes of Advertise, Hello Youmzain and One Master all setting the bar very high.

CLEONTE – 2.10pm (Long Distance Cup)

We switch to the inner track for the Long Distance Cup where the ground will ride considerably better. That will help my mount Cleonte but will also help Stradivarius who is arguably the biggest star on show on Champions Day. Cleonte goes well at Ascot as he showed when winning the Queen Alexandra Stakes on his last visit here (pictured). He’d previously run well behind Dee Ex Bee here in May and won at Ascot last summer too. He got a bit bogged down in the mud at Longchamp last time and the better surface will help him. He chased home Stradivarius at Doncaster last month and I’d be delighted if he could do the same again.

2.45pm (Fillies & Mares Sprint)

No ride for me in the Fillies & Mares race where John Gosden appears to hold all the aces. Star Catcher won the Ribblesdale here in June and has held her form well since. If she doesn’t get the job done for Frankie then her Oaks-winning stablemate Anapurna will most likely pick up the pieces.

HAPPY POWER – 3.20pm (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes)

A big field of 16 has been declared for the QE II where I ride one of the outsiders Happy Power, again for Andrew Balding and King Power Racing. On paper he has a fair bit to find to trouble the big guns, but he has won both starts on soft ground this season which is a big plus. The worse conditions get, the better the chances of French raider The Revenant, but I’m hoping we might surprise a few here.

FOX TAL – 4.00pm (Champion Stakes)

One of the reasons I became the retained jockey for King Power was to ride in the big races and Fox Tal will be my fifth ride of the day for them in the Champion Stakes. He surprised everyone a little when he won on his eagerly awaited reappearance at Doncaster last month and deserves to take his chance in a race like this. He has plenty to find on the form book, but he is lightly raced and improving. Whether he can beat the likes Magical, Addeybb or Coronet though is the question.

ARCTIC SOUND – 4.40pm (Balmoral Stakes)

Finally, my last ride of the afternoon is Arctic Sound for Mark Johnston who has again been a big supporter of mine this season. He’s only a three-year-old and has a big weight, but he’s got some nice form in the book and is high up the handicap for a reason. Whether he handles ground as soft as this is a big question, but it’s a valuable pot and worth having a go at. Lord North has top weight but looked a Group horse in the Cambridgeshire. He should be fine on the ground and may be hard to beat.

Good luck


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