Thursday 11 October 2018

Silvestre De Sousa

From the land of the Samba beat, Silvestre De Souza is an ex champion flat race jockey, claiming the title in 2015 and 2017. Born in São Francisco do Maranhão, Brazil on 31st December 1980, De Souza is now based in Britain, having moved to Sao Paulo from his 9 siblings at the tender age of 17 and then moving to England to join trainer, David Nicholls in 2006.

He first sat on a racehorse at the age of 18, after being talent spotted by compatriot Fausto Durso who saw something special in the young man. This potential would eventually become to be realised after a slow start and after a season that De Souza only spent in England on a “What have I got to lose?” basis, he finished with 27 winners and win rate of 14%.


Soon after, De Souza found himself on the periphery at the Nicholls yard, with David preferring his own son, Adrian in the big races. This led to a period as a freelance rider which saw him enjoy an impressive record of 21, 35 and 68 winners over the next three years. This performance caught the eye of trainer Mark Johnston who took on De Souza shortly after. It was to be a wise move, as the jockey went onto an Epsom Derby Win and two winners at Royal Ascot, something De Souza described as “unbelievable”.

In 2011, De Souza almost claimed the title of champion flat jockey, narrowly losing out to Paul Hanagan and winning 161 races in the process. There were near misses in the next two years, with De Souza just losing out to Richard Hughes, which led to a bit of a change in direction.


Success in flat racing’s champion jockey race was finally achieved in 2015 and then again in 2017 with De Souza being employed by Betway as an Ambassador. The season saw the jockey win 155 races and win a staggering £1.7m in prize money.

After a frustrating beginning, the future certainly looks bright for Silvestre De Souza.

Thursday 4 October 2018

Dan Skelton

Daniel Skelton is a leading National Hunt Trainer, who has saddled over 465 winners in his career.
With four seasons under his belt, Skelton has had 28 graded/listed winners and scored big wins on the track. This includes his first victory at Cheltenham in 2016 when Superb Story won the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle, ridden by his brother, jockey Harry Skelton. 
By his third season he crossed the 100 winners barrier for the first time and earned over £1 million in prize money. He has continued to build on earlier achievements, with some of his most notable performances coming from Three Musketeers, Blue Heron, Al Ferof, Its’afreebee and Ch’tibello.
Since becoming a trainer, Dan and Harry have struck up a close working partnership. Harry was in the saddle when Willow’s Saviour stormed to victory in the 2013 Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot during Dan’s first season as a trainer.

Dan set up his own training stable at the family farm, Lodge Hill in Warwickshire in 2013 with 12 horses. That number rapidly expanded and he ended the 2013/14 season with 27 wins. 
He began his career with a few amateur races, before landing work at Champion trainer Paul Nicholls’ yard, Manor Farm Stables. After initially starting as a pupil assistant, he was quickly made assistant trainer a role he stayed in for nine years. Dan credits his early success to Nicholls’ tutelage at the world-renowned racing stable as well as the unique experience of growing up around one of the world’s best show-jumpers.

Monday 1 October 2018

Racing Festivals and Events - Ones to Watch in the Months Ahead!

It's certainly been a thrilling year of racing action so far and with a continued focus on the racing calendar and specifically noteworthy festivals and events ahead, we can see that the next 6 months plus are packed with yet more top class racing action, starting with late October's QIPCO British Champions Day and stretching out to early April's Aintree Grand National, where we'll be presenting our usual selection of Grand National tips.

British Champions Day is a single day event held at Ascot, this year on Saturday 20th October. It's a relatively new race, having first taken place in 2011. Despite that the prize money on offer marks it out as a serious money event (almost £4.5 million for the 2018 racecard). The day includes the Group one British Champions Sprint Stakes, and British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes amongst other competitive races. 35 major races over the flat season constitute the 'British Champions series', of which the first five races of British Champions Day are considered the final.

Doncasters Vertem Futurity Trophy is also a stand out October event. There are currently 76 entries for this group one event held over the flat. 2019 Epsom Derby potential, Too Darn Hot, is surely one to watch.

As we move to November, the festival emphasis moves to jumps, rather than flat with Newbury's Winter Carnival as well as Cheltenham's November meeting creating excitement for racing fans.  In December, we have The International at Cheltenham racecourse, but a highlight for me are the Christmas festivals with Sandown Park's Tingle Creek Christmas Festival as well as Kempton Parks' Christmas Festival bringing some festive racing excitement our way.

There are no major festivals or racing events in January. February sees the Welsh Grand National, though for many the real action starts the following month with the much anticipated Cheltenham Festival, a four day national hunt feast of racing featuring highly anticipated races such as the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle, Stayers' Hurdle and of course the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is a race that eclipses most others in terms of its profile and history and has elevated the likes of Best Mate and Kauto Star into the echelones of racing royalty due to their consistent successes in the race.

April brings us what's surely classed as 'the one to watch' for even those not heavily into racing. I'm of course refering to the Grand National, held at Aintree, Liverpool. This three day meeting taking place just as the excitement of Cheltenham has died down and really draws in the crowd on course, with numbers close to 35,000 on days two and three. TV screens across the nation and the world will also to tuned in, as without a doubt the Grand National has global appeal.
Each day of the Grand National festival has its highlights, with the first day kicking off with four grade one races, the next featuring the elegance and fun of Ladies Day and on Saturday we have the Grand National itself. Steeped in tradition going all the way back to 1839, with 4 miles 2 furlongs and 30 tough fences to separate the best from the rest, the Grand National offers the potential to cement a place in racing history, alongside the likes of three time winner Red Rum. If there's one race to win as a jockey, trainer or owner, it's definitely the Grand National.