Silvestre de Sousa crowned champion after a 'great year'

Sat 21 Oct 2017

Silvestre de Sousa was delighted after officially being crowned Stobart Champion Flat Jockey for the second time in a ceremony at Ascot.

Listen: Silvestre De Sousa on becoming champion

De Sousa, 36, finished well clear of closest pursuer Jim Crowley, having the title sewn up many weeks ago, reaching the 200-winner mark at Lingfield on Wednesday.

De Sousa, who won the Cesarewitch at Newmarket last weekend, said: "It's great to be here after a long season. I've worked really hard this year and I always wanted to win the title again and I finally did."

He went on: "I am delighted to be here on a special day like this. I think this title was more enjoyable. When I started the season I had in my mind I wanted to win it, but you can never be sure that you are going to win it.

"I was riding better horses and was riding better than ever. I had more confidence in my rides. It was more enjoyable as trainers put more confidence into me, in that they left it up to me to do what was best for the horse.

"I do feel a better rider, but I think every year you feel that. This year was one of my great years. I rode over 200 winners this year and that was a great achievement.

"For the last few weeks I've been very confident that no one could catch me. Whoever was in second and third, they were going to need to work twice as hard to catch me.

"It is a lot of effort from everyone, from my agent Shelley Dwyer and my sponsorship with 188Bet is a big help. It is a big team that have got me here."

Born in Northern Brazil, De Sousa was champion apprentice at Sao Paulo in 2000 but left his homeland in 2003 and decided to try his luck in Europe, first with Dermot Weld in Ireland before moving to Yorkshire where he worked for the late Dandy Nicholls.

De Sousa - Champion Jockey - FocusonRacing There were 30,000 at Ascot on Saturday to see Silvestre De Sousa crowned Stobart Champion Jockey for a second time (FocusOnRacing)

His breakthrough came when he was spotted by Mark Johnston in 2010 and a year later had his first winners on the big stage at Royal Ascot.

In 2015, the unassuming Brazilian fought his way to the top of the tree just 12 months after losing his job with Godolphin.

Runner-up in 2010 and 2011, pushing Paul Hanagan all the way in the latter season, De Sousa was the only jockey to reach three figures in the first year of the revamped title and, much like this term, he had sealed the deal with several weeks to spare.

He highlighted the Cesarewitch on Withhold as one of the highest points of the season.

"I think the day I rode five winners at Sandown and one at Goodwood, that was a big highlight," he said.

"Everyone was talking about my ride in the Cesarewitch, saying I gave a great ride on Withhold. I grabbed the race like the race was mine. There are 34 horses in the field and when you get things right it is great. 

"If I am fit, healthy and well then I can't see why I won't be going for a third title. I want to do very well again next year and if I had the same support as this year I hope to ride plenty of winners. 

"If the good horses come I will ride them, but if not I will go to Catterick and anywhere else to ride the winners."

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