Silvestre De Sousa Blog | 21st June 2018

Silvestre de Sousa’s 188BET Blog – Thursday 21st June 2018   

By the third day of the meeting I tend to have got nicely set into my routine. As you know, I go home to Newmarket each night and it’s great to wake up in my own bed, even if that’s very early!

It will be the usual start and after riding work in the morning I will make my way to Ascot. There is plenty of time before the first for a bit of physio, a read of the paper and a few snacks.

Day three is Ladies’ Day with the lenses of the global press very much focused on the fashion rather than the horses. I noticed that Royal Ascot made the front pages of every newspaper yesterday with pictures of Meghan.

All jokes aside, that can only be good for our sport, though. As for Thursday’s action and the feature race is the Gold Cup where I’ve got a lively chance.

More about that and my other rides below…

2.30pm Royal Ascot (Norfolk Stakes)

No ride for me opener with a surprisingly small field. American raider Shang Shang Shang has been heavily talked up in the build-up to this meeting and will be hard to catch if he’s as good as they say he is.

He might well have to be if he’s to beat the likes of Konchek and Vintage Brut. Even Richard Spencer’s horse Rumble Inthejungle looked pretty smart on his debut.

Shakour – 3.05pm Royal Ascot (Hampton Court Stakes)

My first ride of the day is aboard Shakour for Jason Ward in the Hampton Court Stakes. This is the first time I have ridden him and to be honest I don’t know too much about him.

He used to be trained by John Gosden and failed to win for him as a two-year-old. He then won first time for Jason at Beverley this season and finished fourth in a Listed race at Chester last month.

This will require a massive step up and if he could grab some prize money I’m sure connections would be over the moon. Godolphin’s Key Victory and Aidan O’Brien’s Hunting Horn look the two to beat.

3.40pm Royal Ascot (Ribblesdale Stakes)

Another race I’ll be watching from the weighing room and it will be interesting to see how some of the beaten horses from the Oaks bounce back after their efforts at Epsom.

I still think that Wild Illusion, who finished second, is the one to beat as this track will suit better. Sun Maiden looked very smart last time, but this is a massive step up in class.

Desert Skyline – 4.20pm Royal Ascot (Gold Cup)

The big race of the day which plenty are billing as a straight match between Order Of St George and Stradivarius. Well, I’ll be hoping to spoil the party aboard Desert Skyline who I ride for David Elsworth.

I won the Doncaster Cup over 2m2f on him last season, which was the only time he has run over further than two miles. This afternoon’s race is over an extra two furlongs which I am convinced will suit him.

I suppose it all comes down to whether he is good enough, but he certainly deserves his place in this line-up. He finished second to Stradivarius last time, but that was over 1m6f which was never going to suit and we also had to carry a 3lb penalty.

Obviously Order Of St George is the one we all have to beat, but he has shown his best on a slightly softer surface so there are grounds for optimism.

Ostillo – 5.00pm Royal Ascot (Britannia Handicap)

Only the 30 runners in the Britannia Handicap where the draw is bound to play its part. I have picked up a really nice ride for Simon Crisford on Ostillo who I saw win nicely at Newmarket last time.

He has gone up 6lbs for that success, but the fast ground and strong pace will suit. The fact that he is drawn down the middle also means we can go either side depending on where the pace is.

I’m hoping he can go well but fear plenty, including Sam Gold who carries the same owner’s colours.

Communique – 5.35pm Royal Ascot (King George V Stakes)

My last ride of the day and hopefully it’s one with a serious chance. Mark Johnston has his team in great form and I’m delighted to have picked up the ride on Communique who was a really nice winner at Newbury last time.

The handicapper has punished him for that success, but he is entitled to step up again with the extra trip likely to suit. I suppose the wide draw isn’t ideal, although looking at recent winners of this race and where they have broken from, it could actually be a positive.

There are plenty of dangers as you would expect in a race like this with stablemates Baghdad and Making Miracles high on the shortlist.