Jockey Silvestre de Sousa is extending his stay in Hong Kong to lock down a sought-after Derby ride.
The Brazilian is licensed until January 29, but has applied to ride for an extra meeting on February 2 so he can partner the John Moore-trained Enjoying in a Class Two 1,800m race.
With 11 winners from 120 rides, it is more than likely De Sousa’s application will be approved by the Jockey Club’s licensing committee.
While De Sousa has high expectations of Enjoying, he will partner Frankie Lor Fu-chuen’s Decrypt in Monday’s Classic Mile.
The Group One Irish Guineas (1,600m) placegetter is well regarded, but question marks have been raised over his ability to race over further than a mile.
“It all depends on the pace they go, he is a horse who has a bit of toe,” De Sousa said. “The form out of the Irish Guineas hasn’t really held up and even though he placed, he finished a long way off.
“He has classic form over there [in Europe] but when they come to Hong Kong, it is a different kettle of fish, the horse has to acclimatise and all of that.”
But with just eight rivals in the Classic Mile, De Sousa knows he still has a chance in the HK$10 million feature.
Decrypt has performed well in his two Hong Kong starts to date, running two thirds in Class Two company.
“He feels pretty well in the morning, it will be a good race, he hasn’t disgraced himself in Hong Kong so I just hope he can come back and improve on his two runs already,” he said.
De Sousa trialled Enjoying on Tuesday after running a slashing third earlier this month on the four-year-old.
The Australian import had failed to show his ability in his first two Hong Kong starts before stepping up in distance under De Sousa.
“He had a nice trial, I thought I was a bit unlucky last time, I didn’t have the split when I wanted to and the winner had the first run on me,” he said.
“But in saying that, he finished the run well and I was happy with the trial this morning, we didn’t overdo it but he worked well from the 600m to the winning post.”
As Moore’s premier Derby hope, De Sousa is keen to lockdown the ride going forward.
Enjoying will join a host of other Derby hopefuls who have elected to bypass the Classic Mile in favour of the Class Two 1,800m option a week later.
“I hope I can come back [for the Derby], that’s why I have applied to extend my licence to February, there is a race for him there so I hope to qualify him for the Derby, from there we will see how it goes,” he said.
Looking to make the most of his remaining time in Hong Kong, De Sousa takes seven rides into Wednesday night’s Happy Valley meeting, including the progressive David Ferraris-trained Winning Feeling.
After winning under Ryan Moore on International Jockeys’ Championship night in December, Winning Feeling ran fourth under De Sousa after being forced to set the pace up in class.
Drawing barrier one in the Class Three Hoi Yuen Handicap (1,200m), De Sousa hopes to utilise his best asset.
“That [barrier] is half the battle, he is a quick horse, if it is going his way, he goes there with a chance. I just hope we can get a bit of luck and he can show his best,” he said.
He will also partner Compassion Star, Reeve’s Muntjac and Excel Delight on the night.