De Sousa moves south in search of top-class races

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SILVESTRE De Sousa is to become Frankie Dettori’s understudy at Sheikh Mohammed’s world-famous Godolphin racing operation.

It means the Brazilian-born rider, a close second to Paul Hanagan in last season’s Flat title race, leaving his Thirsk base and moving to Newmarket.

The new job completes a meteoric rise for the 31-year-old, who hardly spoke a word of English when he moved to North Yorkshire six years ago to link up with Dandy Nicholls and then a succession of trainers across the region.

De Sousa struck up a great partnership last season with Middleham trainer Mark Johnston who trains for Sheikh Mohammed’s son, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, and which enabled him to challenge Malton-based Hanagan.

In recent days, De Sousa was linked with the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum job soon to be vacated by Richard Hills. However, the rider had begun talks with Godolphin prior to this vacancy becoming public.

De Sousa said that he could not turn down “a fantastic opportunity” after winning several races for Godolphin in Dubai this winter.

“He will be a big asset to our team,” said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford.

With Godolphin expecting to have a record number of horses in training this year with both Saeed Bin Suroor and Mahmood Al Zarooni, De Sousa will have countless opportunities – especially as Dettori wants to concentrate on the major meetings in order to prolong his career.

Godolphin used a succession of riders towards the end of last season in their royal blue silks, including De Sousa.

There are no hard feelings from Johnston, who says the rider has made the “right decision”.

“I said to him than rather than becoming champion jockey it was far more important to get opportunities in top-class races in order to be recognised as one of the top jockeys,” said Johnston.

“I have no doubt he is capable of doing that.”

Joe Fanning, who rode 43 winners for Johnston last year, has been riding for the yard during the British all-weather season and is likely to be the primary beneficiary of De Sousa’s departure.

“We’ve always used good jockeys like Frankie Dettori when he has been available and there should be plenty of occasions when we can use Silvestre again,” added Johnston.

Tom Scudamore brought up his 50 for the season with victory on the David Pipe-trained Faasel (4-1) in the 32Red Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Doncaster.

The 11-year-old had not won since Carlisle in November 2008. “That’s 50 up for the season and it’s brilliant as I missed the first four months of it,” said Scudamore.

“David’s horses are running so well.”

Earlier, James Reveley had ridden Eagle Rock to victory for Tadcaster-based Tom Tate, while Andrew Tinkler was at his best to steer Oscar Nominee to success.

Royal Academy, ridden by Lester Piggott to Breeders’ Cup glory in 1990 just days after the legendary jockey had announced a shock comeback, has died.