David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Silvestre de Sousa is Hong Kong-bound via a Singapore return

Silvestre de Sousa has been licensed for his longest stint yet in Hong Kong but first he will take a rare trip to Singapore.

Silvestre de Sousa will pay a flying visit to Singapore before he heads to Hong Kong later this month to take up a contract with the Hong Kong Jockey Club that could see him ride a full season in the city for the first time.

The Brazilian received the nod on Wednesday for a Hong Kong licence, which starts on August 20 – giving him time to prepare for the season opener on September 11 – and runs until February 20. Such a licensing agreement often sets up a jockey to continue through to the season’s end in July.

“I always wanted to spend a bit more time in Hong Kong, that’s always been in my mind, so when the King Power contract finished after three years, I thought that would give me the opportunity to go back there for a longer period of time,” De Sousa told The Report.

I always wanted to spend a bit more time in Hong Kong, that’s always been in my mind.

The three-time British champion has an impressive record when flying in for short-term winter stints and the best of those yielded 44 wins across five months in 2018-19. A similar level of success across a full season would see him push for a top three spot in the premiership, but he is being sensibly circumspect about any talk of a title challenge.


Silvestre de Sousa wins the 2018 International Jockeys Championship. (Photo: HKJC).

Zac Purton and Joao Moreira have dominated the title race for the past nine seasons, compiling tallies that have been a wide margin clear of the rest.

“It’s hard to say I can get in and challenge those two guys because they’ve been there for so long and they do dominate. But my approach is to go there and ride a few winners and be successful,” he said.

“I don’t have to win the title; the thing I’m really hoping for is to get on a nice horse and ride it through its career. That’s why I was hoping Hong Kong would licence me early, so that I can look for one of those nice young horses that can lead me into the Derby.”

I don’t have to win the title; the thing I’m really hoping for is to get on a nice horse and ride it through its career.

De Sousa, who backed out of a contract last winter due to the strict quarantine measures at the time, has enjoyed notable successes in the city: he won the International Jockeys Championship at Happy Valley in 2018, four days before he landed a Group 1 win in the Hong Kong Cup on Glorious Forever for last season’s champion trainer Frankie Lor.

“I hope I can be associated with the top trainers again,” he said. “My only Group 1 out there was for Frankie, and John Moore used to give me a great leg up but he’s retired; John Size has three or four jockeys to fit in but I hope I can pick up some spare rides there and show my talent.”

Silvestre De Sousa outpoints Oisin Murphy in a tight finish at Newbury. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

De Sousa will fly to Hong Kong on August 23 and will bolster the expatriate jockey contingent following the departures last season of Blake Shinn, Daniel Moor and Chad Schofield. Shinn, who will be based in Melbourne in upcoming months, is currently riding in Singapore where De Sousa will head for only the second time in his career to ride Fame Star in the SIN-G1 Lion City Cup for trainer Stephen Crutchley on August 14.

“It’s been a while since I was there, I’ve only ridden in Singapore once and it was in and out, when I rode Hunter’s Light for Godolphin about nine years ago. I have a few friends riding out there and Blake Shinn is out there and I’m looking forward to it,” he added,

The powerful lightweight will return to Britain for a week before flying to Hong Kong on August 23. His family will initially remain in Newmarket.



    Subscribe now & get exclusive weekly content from Asian Racing Report direct to your inbox

      Expert ratings, tips & analysis for Hong Kong racing