Silvestre De Sousa won his first jockeys’ championship in 2015. Few could begrudge him the title after his agonising near-miss in 2011, when he ended just four winners behind Paul Hanagan.
The 2015 title race had been billed as a match between Ryan Moore and Richard Hughes, but the former missed a chunk of the season with a neck injury, while the latter retired halfway through the campaign to concentrate on his training career.
That left the door open for De Sousa, who had been a 33-1 chance at the start of the season. He chalked up 132 winners, with Hanagan and William Buick (both 96) ending up being his closest pursuers.
His biggest win was aboard David Elsworth’s Arabian Queen in the Juddmonte International Stakes. De Sousa caused quite an upset as he steered the 50-1 shot home ahead of Golden Horn, the Investec Derby winner, who was the odds-on favourite.
His superb campaign in 2011, headed by a pair of Royal Ascot wins, helped secure him a job as one of the main jockeys riding for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation in 2012.
He was the main jockey for trainer Saeed bin Suroor and enjoyed his first British Group 1 victory and first QIPCO British Champions Series success with Farhh in the 2013 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes and followed that with victory on Ahzeemah in the Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup at York.
He then rode the biggest victory of his career when bringing Farhh home victorious in the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day.
De Sousa’s association with Godolphin ended at the finish of 2014, when Sheikh Mohammed turned to Buick and James Doyle. It did not take De Sousa long to show the split had left no mark.
He was runner-up to Jim Crowley in the 2016 jockeys’ title (again partnering 132 winners) before reclaiming his crown in 2017; when hereached 133 winners in mid-September and won the Magners Rose Doncaster Cup aboard Desert Skyline.
2018 saw De Sousa scoop another Jockey Championship as well, picking up three second places throughout the Series – the win did however elude him.
In 2019 he did have to sacrifice the Jockey’s Championship to Oisin Murphy but he did manage to get himself back in to the Series winners enclosure aboard veteran Donjuan Triumphant in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes at QIPCO British Champions Day.