the smile on Silvestre de Sousa’s face says it all. Three years ago, he was plying his trade from Thirsk. Now he is on top of the world after partnering African Story to victory in the Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race.
A sixth win in the 10-furlong race for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, this was the most significant success to date in the career of the Brazilian-born rider who joined Sheikh Mohammed’s ‘boys in blue’ Godolphin racing empire at the end of 2011.
“It’s an amazing feeling, one of absolute delight. Godolphin called me to ask me to join their team and I was privileged to accept,” he said.
“Saeed thought African Story was a great horse. He had a couple of issues, especially on his second start this year, but he was at his absolute best. In fact, I had to pinch myself because of how well he was travelling. There is pressure, but at the same time I think I have shown that I have given my best and that there may still be more to come.”
African Story took the £3.6m first prize after overhauling long-time leader Mukhadram who was ridden by Paul Hanagan, the then Yorkshire-based rider who narrowly beat De Sousa to the jockeys’ title in 2011. Just four winners separated the pair.
Mukhadram, the winner of the Sky Bet York Stakes last summer, is trained by Skipton-born William Haggas who was full of praise for Hanagan’s boldness in overcoming the disadvantage of a wide draw by making a fast break and taking up the running.
“We’ve had a goodish result,” said Haggas who hopes the horse will stay in training for a tilt at next year’s race.
This was also a red letter day for Wetherby-born trainer Jamie Osborne who recorded the most significant win of his career when Toast Of New York won the UAE Derby.
A former jump jockey now based in Lambourn, Osborne says the three-year-old could be supplemented into the Epsom Derby.
America’s Kentucky Derby is also an option.
“There’s only one English Derby,” said the Yorkshireman.
He then added: “If we look after him, I don’t think it’s impossible this horse could come back and compete in the World Cup.”
The horse runs in the colours of owner Michael Buckley who has enjoyed considerable success in the National Hunt sphere. In other news from Dubai, champion jockey Richard Hughes faces a short lay-off – he fractured a vertebra after being thrown to the ground when his mount Mars suffered a heart attack in the Sheema Classic. More encouragingly, Yorkshire Oaks winner The Fugue is reported to be none the worse after disappointing in the Dubai Duty Free for trainer John Gosden and jockey William Buick.
Meanwhile, the William Hill Lincoln, the curtain-raiser to the new Flat season, was won by John Ryan’s Ocean Tempest, a horse that had raced six times without success at Meydan this winter.
There was also an eyecatching success for York apprentice jockey Jacob Butterfield aboard Magnolia ridge for Malton trainer Kristin Stubbs. They are a partnership to follow in 2014.
Sam Twiston-Davies warmed up for his Crabbie’s Grand National ride on top-weight Tidal Bay yesterday by completing his first century of winners in a single National Hunt season.
He was elated after Benefit Cut’s win at Ascot and said: “That’s brilliant and one hell of a landmark to ride 100 winners in a season at 21.
“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my dad (Nigel) and the other trainers who have put me up on such good horses this season. After I rode 87 last year, which was brilliant with everything going so well, I thought getting to 90 this time would be doing well.”
Twiston-Davies is fifth in the jockeys’ table and will be reunited with Champion Hurdle third The New One at Aintree this week.
Veteran rider Brian Harding has been booked to ride the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Burton Port in the National.
Tim Easterby will consider the options for the rest of the season for Run Ructions Run following her victory in the EBF Stallions and TBA Mares “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle Finale at Newbury.
The Great Habton trainer has picked out three possible targets at Haydock, Cheltenham and Punchestown for the progressive five-year-old mare.
“She’s come out of it in good form. She did it well,” said Easterby.
Tribute to Sharron Murgatroyd, the paralysed jockey who did not cry: News, Pages 5 and 10.