Hong Kong will now host both of Britain’s best jockeys next month with Silvestre de Sousa to join the Sha Tin colony for three weeks from January 9 to shore up the available numbers.
With Ryan Moore already slated to do six weeks here from January 17, it will be a rare occurrence to have two such high-profile British riders on club contracts at the same time.
Moore was sidelined through injury for a good part of this year and 34-year-old de Sousa took full opportunity to streak away from the remaining opposition for the UK-based Brazilian’s first British championship after contending strongly for that title several times in recent years.
That led to an invitation to the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley earlier this month where he rode a winner for Tony Cruz at his third mount in Hong Kong – he had previously been here for the 2012 Champions Mile and 2013 QE II Cup as Godolphin’s retained rider.
Licensing Committee secretary Steve Ralton said on Monday the club had seen de Sousa as a “jockey of interest for some time”.
“Silvestre has very good credentials, some great achievements behind him, he is light and it was a case of when it was a good fit for both him and the club,” Railton said.
“I spoke to him when he was here for the IJC and, who knows, maybe the fact he rode a winner that night whetted his appetite. Anyway, he has agreed to drop what he is doing and come here for three weeks, which certainly helps our jockey numbers during January.”
Those numbers have been under pressure recently due to a rash of suspensions and injuries to Ben So Tik-hung and Kei Chiong Ka-kai – both expected back riding by the end of next month – as well as longer-term breaks for Eddy Lai Wai-ming and Matthew Chadwick.
Chadwick has not ridden since October 1, when he damaged both the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and lateral cruciate ligament (LCL) in his right knee after being jammed against a metal starting barrier partition by his ride, To-Kalon.
Chadwick had to undergo knee reconstruction surgery and said on Monday his doctors have only been happy for him to walk without a brace on the knee for the past two weeks.
“I go back to the doctor mid-January and hope I’ll be cleared to resume trackwork – race riding is still another story,” Chadwick said. “It would have been quicker with only one of the ligaments damaged and the ACL was good after the surgery, but you can’t fix the LCL with surgery, it just takes time. “Hopefully, I’ll be back at trackwork later in January and then getting back to racing depends on how the injury holds up under some pressure.”