Red-hot jockey Silvestre de Sousa has added another big race to his growing collection, taking out the Macau Hong Kong Trophy (1,500m) with Horse Of Fortune on Sunday.
The Brazilian has enjoyed a golden run during his short-term Hong Kong stint, and teamed up with Dennis Yip Chor-hong to deny legendary trainer Tony Cruz a third straight title at the Taipa track.
De Sousa gave Horse Of Fortune a gun rails run on the rain-soaked track that had favoured on-speed horses all day, but admits he was riding for luck when he elected to sneak up the inside instead of attempting to push out around the leaders.
Macau Hong Kong Trophy (Gr1)— (@WorldRacing_) March 3, 2019
1500m, for 5yo+#horseracing
Horse Of Fortune (SAF)
(8g Stronghold x Sweet Virginia by Casey Tibbs) #DanehillxSadlersWells
J: S. De Sousa
T: C.H. Yip
O: Fantastic Five Syndicate
2nd Romantic Touch (AUS)
3rd Pearl Green (AUS) pic.twitter.com/pwGhJmDwNG
“When you’re on the inside, you always pray for luck a little bit, but it paid off,” he said.
“The horse is very tough and he really tried hard in that race, he didn’t win by a huge margin, but it was enough to make sure it was a win.”
For Yip, the win was extra sweet, marking his third win in the event in its 16-year history.
It was also Hong Kong’s eighth win in the race, which will have a return leg at Sha Tin later this season.
Yip received the eight-year-old gelding from rival trainer Tony Millard at the start of the term and said he brushed aside suggestions of retirement to set the horse for this race.
“For an old horse, he has done so well, he joined my stable at the start of this season not getting any younger and his rating was very high,” he said.
“So I let him race to drop his handicap a little bit to target this race and it has paid off now.
“There are too many good horses in Hong Kong, it is not easy with an old horse there.”
After pulling off the plan, Yip said he will now consider retirement for the 42-start veteran.
The win came in De Sousa’s second ever ride at the track, which presents a very different set of circumstances to those in Hong Kong.
Overnight rainfall meant jockeys were faced with significant kickback from front-running horses.
The Brazilian revealed he had once applied to ride at the gambling mecca but was denied, forcing him to look elsewhere for opportunities.
“This is my first time here, I had planned to come here before, I put in my application but could not get in but it’s paid off now,” he laughed.
Despite his horse Romantic Touch missing a hat trick of wins by just a neck, trainer Tony Cruz said he was happy with his effort after dropping back in trip for the race.
“I am so happy with the horse, in the end, he still ran second and he carried his condition and form. If he didn’t have his condition, he wouldn’t have come second,” he said.
“Joao [Moreira] said he ran his heart out, he just was not as sharp as he was last time.”
Promising Macau-trained five-year-old Pearl Green rounded out the trio, with Richard Gibson’s Litterateur running fourth.
Umberto Rispoli reported his mount Born In China lost his race plates mid race and struggled for traction on the heavy track.