Feature Story

De Sousa enjoys arm-Charyn ride aboard Varian colt

De Sousa enjoys arm-Charyn ride aboard Varian colt Jun 19, 2024

By Sam Turner - 

Jockey Silvestre De Sousa admitted he “has to pinch himself” after steering home another Group 1 winner for trainer Roger Varian courtesy of Charyn in the Royal Ascot curtain raiser: the Queen Anne Stakes.

The Brazilian pilot has enjoyed a brilliant UK flat season to date since returning to race riding following a a 10-month suspension for a betting charge while riding in Hong Kong.

Victory in the 1000 Guineas aboard the Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Maktoum-owned Elmalka signaled the start of a blossoming partnership with Varian and, once De Sousa hit the front on the stands’ side 400m from home, another top-level success was never in doubt.

The winning combination enjoyed a two-and-a-quarter length winning margin at the line with track specialist Docklands (Harry Eustace/Hayley Turner) snatching the runners-up berth, while Sheikh Ahmed’s Maljoom stayed on well to snatch third for jockey Tom Marquand and handler William Haggas.

Dubai Turf winner Facteur Cheval was sixth but paid for chasing front-runner Big Rock on the far side and was left isolated when his countryman faded a furlong from home.

Varian said: “It doesn’t get any better, a Group One at Royal Ascot. I’m so delighted. I’m really so delighted for his owner (Nurlan Bizakov), who has invested so much in the game, he’s supported me for a number of years.

“I’m delighted for my team, everyone works so hard at home. It’s a great day and we’ll enjoy it.

“You have to say he’s improved as he’s got older. He ran some fine races in defeat last year, he was in the biggest races, on the top table and he didn’t disgrace himself.

“He seems to have found another level of form this year. His run in the Lockinge last time was an outstanding run, and he’s confirmed that today, so I’m thrilled.

“Silvestre is convinced he will stay a mile and a quarter, and I kind of agree with him, but he’s not doing much wrong over a mile at the moment, so I wouldn’t be in a rush to change things.”

De Sousa told ITV: "Wow, it's amazing. Roger had a lot of belief in this horse and so did I. What I did there was very little, I just sat there and waited for the right moment but he won quite nicely.  He's such a gentleman and you just have to ask him the question."

"Sometimes I have to pinch myself but I keep working hard and try to achieve new things."


Asfoora hit her King Charles III Stakes rivals for six by following in the rich tradition of successful Australian sprinters at the royal meeting.

In the presence of King Charles III, Henry Dwyer’s trainee became the sixth speedster from Down Under to lift the Group 1 prize when she finished powerfully in the hands of Oisin Murphy to overhaul Regional and Big Evs inside the distance to record a famous one length victory.

The five-year-old emulated the victories of her equine countrymen Choisir (2003), Takeover Target (2006), Miss Andretti (2007), Scenic Blast (2009) and Nature Strip two years ago and a delighted Murphy was understandably impressed with his mount.

He said: “She’s a very tough filly, but I was worried despite having a good sit behind Regional as I wasn’t sure how far the other group were clear.

“When I switched just before the 400m marker, she really let down and found the line. She lugged a little right but was just looking for company.

“It was a race I never thought I’d even win. I probably should have won the race a few years ago for the late Queen when I was on King’s Lynn (2021) and it didn’t happen as I ran into traffic.

“She’s come from Australia and it’s brilliant for Ascot to have this calibre of international runner. It’s a great day.”


John and Thady Gosden trainee Israr made a mockery of the Listed Wolferton Stakes, pulverizing his rivals to score by three-and-a-quarter lengths in the colours of Shadwell to give the Dubai operation their inaugural win in the 2000m contest.

Jockey Jim Crowley arrived on the scene pulling double on the talented, if enigmatic five-year-old, and the response was immediate when the Muhaarar entire was asked to quicken at the two-furlong marker.

The combination relished the fast ground to quicken smartly clear of his toiling rivals as Haunted Dream just edged out Torito to deny the Gosden operation a 1-2.