De Sousa plays down title talk as equine flu contributes to Hong Kong stay

Champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa, who plans to extend his stay in Hong Kong for another month partly because of the outbreak of equine flu in Britain, outlined on Saturday why 2019 could be more about quality than quantity as he played down ambitions of capturing a fourth Flat title.

De Sousa, in his third spell in Hong Kong, lies in fifth place in the jockey standings with 27 winners since his arrival in November and could add to that figure after seeking an extension of his licence with officials.

Originally due to finish at the end of this month, he now plans to stay a little longer, eyeing a return to Britain for Doncaster's Unibet Lincoln meeting on March 30.

However, the three-time champion suggested he will not launch an all-out bid for another crown.

"I should come back for Doncaster and the flu is another reason to stay," he said. "I've ridden a few winners out in Hong Kong and I'm getting plenty of rides. They only race two days a week, but getting five or six rides is still a good number and I've been very lucky.

"People have put me up and I've managed to get a few winners on the board. I'm confident in what I'm doing because I've been doing it for so long – I'm not a spring chicken anymore!

"This is my third time in Hong Kong and I feel I've got my feet on the ground more. I know what's going to happen."

Britain's last ten champion Flat jockeys

2018 Silvestre de Sousa
2017 Silvestre de Sousa
2016 Jim Crowley
2015 Silvestre de Sousa
2014 Richard Hughes
2013 Richard Hughes
2012 Richard Hughes
2011 Paul Hanagan
2010 Paul Hanagan
2009 Ryan Moore

De Sousa's biggest success came on African Story in the 2014 Dubai World Cup, but he has partnered just three top-level winners since. That is something he hopes to change.

"I might not be so busy," added the 38-year-old, who spent the Friday of the Ebor meeting last year at Ffos Las. "I'll try to go for the big rides at the big meetings, better horses in better races.

"I don't think I'm going to be chasing the title this year. I'll probably spend a bit more time with the family. It takes a lot out of you travelling up and down the country."

The Newmarket-based De Sousa, who has two young children and a third on the way, continued: "When you're chasing the title you have to go anywhere for a winner, but only time will tell. I need to see how the season goes, but I'm not going to put in my mind that I'm going to win it."

De Sousa is a 1-2 chance to record a fourth championship, while Oisin Murphy, who enjoyed superb 2018, is next best at 4-1.