De Sousa Doubles, Takes Down Longines IJC

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Silvestre de Sousa | HKJC photo

By Alan Carasso

Brazilian-born Silvestre de Sousa, the leading jockey in England in 2015, 2017 and again this past season, racked up a pair of winners, a second and a third and amassed 34 points to easily outdistance Ireland’s Colin Keane (16 points) en route to victory in the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship on an intermittently rainy Wednesday evening at Hong Kong’s iconic Happy Valley Racecourse.

Keane, the champion Irish apprentice of 2014 and the 2017 leading journeyman jockey, landed the first blow in the competition in a Class 4 over the 1000 metres, producing second-time starter Special Stars (Aus) (Kuroshio {Aus}) from the tail of the field for a 1 1/4-length success as the 18-5 favourite (video). De Sousa got on the board with a runner-up effort atop 21-1 Midnight Rattler (Aus) (Clang {Aus}).

De Sousa got his picture taken in the second leg of the series, a Class 4 over an extended mile, kicking 5-1 chance Glory Star (Ire) (High Chaparral {Ire}) straight into the lead from the outside barrier in the field of 12 and making all the running for a 1 1/2-length defeat of the Javier Castellano-ridden Good For You (NZ) (Thorn Park {Aus}) (video). Keane once again came from well back astride C P Power (Aus) (Nadeem {Aus}) for third place and four points.

Castellano put a positive ride on Curling Luxury (NZ) (O’Reilly {NZ}) in the third race of the sequence, also a C4 over the 1650m, and nearly stole the race at odds of 12-1, but Vincent Ho, a graduate of the Hong Kong Jockey School, came charging late to take it in a blanket finish (video) De Sousa could have clinched the IJC, but his favoured mount All You Know (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) could do no better than a close third after a rails rally inside the final 100 metres.

De Sousa and trainer John Moore will team up in Sunday’s G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase with Siu Pak Kwan’s in-form Eagle Way (Aus) (More Than Ready). Experto Crede (Ire) (Exceed and Excel {Aus}), trained by Moore for Edmond Siu, sealed the deal in the series finale, sneaking up the fence to post a 20-1 upset from market leader Bank On Red (Hat Trick {Jpn}) (video). Ho and Castellano finished on 12 points, but the former was awarded third place on the strength of his riding victory in race three. Castellano entered the final leg with a remote chance of victory in the series, but would have needed a victory and help from others.

“I have to pinch myself that it all went so smoothly tonight, you can’t buy moments like this,” said de Sousa. “The atmosphere was amazing, and you could hear the crowd cheering behind you. Obviously you need luck on a night like this, but to beat jockeys of the quality in this field is something really special.”

Announced attendance on the evening was 30,174 and betting turnover on the nine-race program was HK$1.348 billion (£135.4m/€152.1m/A$237.3m/US$172.6m).

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