Silvestre de Sousa eyeing return from shoulder injury and Covid-19 at Doncaster

Silvestre de Sousa is targeting the start of the Flat turf season at Doncaster for his return to race-riding after recovering from a shoulder operation that was initially delayed when he was struck down with Covid-19.

In December, shortly after he recorded a century of winners for the 11th consecutive year, the three-time champion jockey was forced to isolate at his Newmarket home when he tested positive for the deadly virus.

The Brazilian recovered but it meant the operation on a lingering shoulder problem sustained in a fall at Chelmsford in August 2019 had to be put back until the end of January.

De Sousa is set to begin a third season as retained jockey for King Power Racing and ideally would have been back in time to partner Bangkok this winter, including on a recent foray to the Saudi Cup. However, he now hopes to return to action for Doncaster's Lincoln meeting on March 27.

De Sousa said: "I'd had a lot of trouble with my shoulder since the fall at Chelmsford and it wouldn't settle, so I decided to have it operated on and it now feels one hundred per cent.

"I was meant to have the operation in December but I caught Covid-19. I was rough over Christmas, which wasn't ideal for all the family, but it meant I had to reschedule. I finally had the operation around six weeks ago and have been working away at Sir Peter O'Sullevan House every day lately, which is a great rehab facility. Hopefully I can be back for Doncaster."

Unlike the last two winters when he rode successfully in Hong Kong, De Sousa is starting his year on the British circuit.

He added: "I had to miss Hong Kong this year and it was also frustrating to miss riding Bangkok in recent weeks, especially in Saudi where I've made so many contacts. Hopefully I can go back out there next year."

De Sousa last won the jockeys' title in 2017 but is now just happy to focus on the quality that the King Power job brings.

"We had plenty of winners last season, including a great afternoon at Newmarket in October when we won three Group races on the card," De Sousa added. "Hopefully we can better that this year as we have some nice horses coming through."