Silvestre de Sousa retook the lead in the title race at Epsom on Monday
PICTURE: John Hoy
By Peter Scargill 08:30aM 30 AUG 2016
CHAMPION jockey Silvestre de Sousa on Monday booted home a 245-1 four-timer to retake the lead from Jim Crowly in the Stobart Flat Jockeys’ Championship and he returns to Epsom on Tuesday afternoon hoping to extend his advantage in the title race.
De Sousa has three rides at Epsom, while Crowley, who briefly took the lead in the race to be champion jockey after riding a treble at Windsor on Saturday, heads to Goodwood for a trio of rides himself.
De Sousa’s first ride of the day comes aboard likely second favourite Star Of The East for Mark Johnston in the 1m½f maiden (2.35). He then teams up with Johnston again to ride Highly Sprung, who is set to go off towards the head of the market, in the competitive-looking 6f handicap at 3.10. Arguably his best chance of success is on last-time-out winner Nouvelli Dancer, who is a top price of 3-1 to win the 7f handicap at 3.45.
Crowley starts off with the David Menuisier-trained Saunter, who heads the betting at 9-4 in Goodwood’s 1m2f maiden (2.25). He then rides the unexposed Bee Case, who is 3-1 second favourite to win the 6f fillies’ nursery at 3.35, before riding the lightly-raced Hard Toffee in the finale at 5.20.
Crowley and De Sousa are due to go head-to-head at Lingfield on Wednesday, where they both have a numerically-strong book of rides.
Fightback from De Sousa
While it may be over seven weeks until the champion jockey is declared at Ascot on Qipco British Champions Day on October 15, De Sousa let it be known he will be fighting tooth and nail to retain his title by riding four successive winners at Epsom on Monday.
The rider steered Hurricane Rush, Ancient Astronaut, El Astronaute and Goodwood Zodiac to victory to move on to 81 wins. Crowley could not improve on his 79 winners with two seconds the best he could manage at Epsom.
Bookmakers flip-flopped on who will win the championship, with De Sousa supplanting his rival as favourite at 5-6 with Ladbrokes and Coral, while Crowley is 10-11 second pick with Coral and evens with Ladbrokes.
‘I feel no pressure’
De Sousa insisted on Monday that the media spotlight on the title race and good form of Crowley was not causing him additional stress as the fixture list moves into the crucial autumn period.
“I feel no pressure, I feel as good as the rides I have,” he said. “If the rides are good enough I feel I can deliver, but if I don’t have the rides all I can do is do my best.
“I’ve just got to keep going. There’s a long way to go but I’ve had a good day today. It means a lot to me.”