There were two surprises for Silvestre de Sousa after a treble at Sha Tin on Tuesday; one, that he didn’t ride even more winners, and two, that one of them was 21-1 shot Amazing Always.
“I came here thinking I had a really good book of rides, I honestly thought I might ride five or six, but Amazing Always certainly wasn’t one of them,” de Sousa said, after 24-1 debutante Super Sixteen and 6-1 chance Imperial Concorde later completed a treble that would have delivered a monstrous payout of more than HK$40,000 for a HK$10 investment had the trio been combined in an all-up.
“Then again I am always confident, that’s the way you have to be, if you don’t think you are coming to the races with a winning chance you might as well stay at home. And when Amazing Always won in race two, that’s when I really thought I was in for a big day.”
The 2015 UK champion jockey certainly earned his percentage on the David Ferraris-trained runner, with the lightweight forced to scrub the reluctant seven-year-old for much of the 1,600m Class Five, as Oisin Murphy set a solid clip on leader Silver Gatsby.
“That was hard work, it took me nearly two races to recover, if they’d had the heart monitor on me they wouldn’t have let me ride in the next race,” de Sousa quipped, with the Brazilian also having to go to work with the whip after turning, taking full advantage of the lack of whip rules, with the frequency of strikes well in excess of the controversial limits in place back in Britain. “Yeah, I would have been in trouble back home.”
While it took every ounce of de Sousa’s strong-arm tactics to extract the required effort from Amazing Always, Tony Millard’s Sweet Sixteen scored like a winner waiting to happen in Class Four, making a mockery of his long odds.
A 2016 Hong Kong International Sale purchase, Super Sixteen’s debut had been delayed by an incomplete fracture in the three-year-old’s left front leg that required surgery in May.
After returning to work in early September, three trials in little over a month had the son of Showcasing ready for the races and Millard’s decision to go against older rivals over 1,200m, rather than the Griffin Trophy against Pakistan Star at 1,400m, paid off.
“Actually he feels like a miler and eventually he will get further, but right now he is still a baby and he seems like a very immature horse,” the jockey said after Super Sixteen stormed home from near the tail.
Imperial Concorde was another that responded to the de Sousa vigour, the six-year-old dirt-tracker winning for the first time since coming to Francis Lui Kin-wai from the dispersed stock of jettisoned trainer Sean Woods.
“He is a funny horse to ride, if you push him too much at the start of a race he doesn’t have anything in a finish but you have to really get stuck into him when it is business time, he doesn’t want to win,” de Sousa said. “You saw him there today, he wanted to throw it away as he was coming to the front. He needs everything to go his way, I was confident on him last start but he just didn’t get the pace he needs, today things worked out.”