Having narrowly missed out on the Flat Jockeys’ Championship, 165-161, to Paul Hanagan in 2011,
Brazilian-born Silvestre De Sousa was announced as a retained jockey for Godolphin in February, 2012. De Sousa had apparently impressed Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, founder of Godolphin, and his racing manager, Simon Crisford, while riding for North Yorkshire trainer Mark Johnston the previous season.
De Sousa relocated to Newmarket to ride alongside stable jockey Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori and, when Dettori announced his decision to ride on a freelance basis in 2013, became prinicipal jockey to Saeed Bin Suroor at Godolphin Stables. However, by May, 2014, the writing was on the wall for De Sousa as Bin Suroor switched his affiliation to veteran jockey Kieran Fallon, 49, of whom he said, ‘ I’m happy to give him a chance in all the big races’. Bin Suroor proved true to his word and the following November, when William Buick and James Doyle were appointed Goldolphin jockeys, De Sousa lost his retainer altogether.
Nevertheless, De Sousa bounced back from his sacking by Goldolphin in no uncertain terms. He won the Flat Jockeys’ Championship for the first time in 2015, with 132 winners, finished runner-up to Jim Crowley in 2016, with 148 winners, and won the jockeys’ title again in both 2017 and 2018, with 155 and 148 winners, respectively.
If an individual is charged with a serious breach of the Rules of Racing, including, but not limited to, corruption, improper use of ‘inside’ information or administering a prohibitive substance, he or she is required to appear before the Disciplinary Panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). After a fair, impartial hearing, the Disciplinary Panel decides if there has been a breach of the Rules of Racing and, if so, on an appropriate punishment.
If the charged individual is ‘warned off’, they are excluded from any premises licensed by the BHA, including racecourses and training establishments, and restricted from associating with other licensed or registered persons, including jockeys, trainers and owners, for a length of time stipulated by the Disciplinary Panel. In the most famous case in recent years, in May, 2013, former Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was warned off for eight years, with immediate effect, after admitting administering prohibited anabolic steroids to several horses in his care and acting in a manner prejudicial to the good reputation of horse racing.
Named after the Godolphin Arabian – one of the founders of modern thoroughbred bloodstock – Godolphin is the thoroughbred horse racing and breeding operation founded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who, since 2006, has been the Ruler of Dubai. In Britain, Godolphin relies on trainers Saeed bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby, both of whom divide their years between Dubai and Newmarket, while the famous royal blue silks are most often worn by retained jockeys James Doyle and William Buick. At the last count, the Godolphin operation had produced 5,415 winners, including 297 Group One, or Grade One, winners, worldwide since 1992, at a strike rate of 20%.