Brazilian jockey Silvestre de Sousa capped off his perfect week with a flawless wire-to-wire victory on unproven Glorious Forever in the Longines Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) on Sunday.
Following in his full brother’s footsteps, the Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-trained four-year-old kept his opposition at bay after managing to stack up the field with a series of easy sectional times.
Ironically, it was full brother Time Warp that he kept out when De Sousa charged to the front from barrier one, forcing rival jockey Zac Purton to sit behind him.
It capped off a huge week for De Sousa, who also won the HK$800,000 International Jockeys’ Championship on Wednesday night at Happy Valley.
Despite a field boasting some of Japan’s strongest middle distance runners, De Sousa said he thought he had the race won with 800m to go.
“I was going so well at the 800m, I thought to myself if someone was going to come and take the race away from me, they are going to have to do very well – it’ll have to be one of the Europeans because I thought Time Warp couldn’t go any more,” he said.
“I won the battle of the first 300m and after that it was good.”
The tactics between the pair created a huge talking point before the race and it proved to be the deciding factor after they ruined each other’s chances only three weeks earlier when they engaged in a speed battle which set up the backmarkers in the Group Two Jockey Club Cup (2,000m).
“I was never going to be one to overdo it. I was considering waiting for Time Warp to come and take the lead off me but he left it to me,” De Sousa said.
Glorious Forever’s ability was there for all to see towards the end of last season when he broke Time Warp’s 2,000m Sha Tin record in a Class Two race, but has struggled since when stepping up in grade with a tendency to overrace early on.
De Sousa, the horse’s sixth jockey in just eight career starts, was able to make the trip comfortable for the son of Archipenko.
Having only received his training licence less than 18 months ago, Lor announced himself on the biggest possible moment in Hong Kong, marking himself as one of the top trainers already.
Lor said it was his ambition to one day win the coveted trainers’ premiership.
“Today has been amazing for me, I cannot believe it,” he said. “It is my dream, I tried, when I got a licence to get more winners and more good horses.”
After declaring he was happy for his horse not to lead on Saturday, Lor said he kept the tactics flexible in the HK$28 million showpiece, depending on what Time Warp did.
“I talked to him [De Sousa] yesterday. If we jump good just try to lead except if Time Warp tries to push too hard, maybe we could just hold and take a step back,” he said.
As a lightly raced four-year-old, Lor said he was open to the prospect of travelling worldwide with his potential star, but he was keen to win more races at home before taking on others.
While both Japanese horses Deirdre and Sungrazer were heavily tipped before the race, it was only Dierdre who proved a threat, flashing home late under jockey Christophe Lemaire for second.
“She ran very good. It was a good pace and she was very relaxed all the way around. She picked up very well and has a long acceleration, giving all at the finish.
“Well done to the winner as he made the running and never gave up. The best horse won today,” Lemaire said.