Champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa was at his brilliant best as he steered Ostilio to victory in the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Having chased home Tuesday’s St James’s Palace Stakes hero Without Parole on his penultimate outing before winning at Newmarket, Simon Crisford’s charge was among the market principals for this fiercely competitive handicap as a 10-1 shot.
The three-year-old made a smart start over the straight mile and after initially leading down the centre of the track, De Sousa tacked his mount across to grab the stands rail.
It was clear some way from home that his rivals would struggle to close the gap and Ostilio passed the post with a handy advantage. Curiosity was second ahead of Magnificent and Desert Wind in third and fourth respectively.
Crisford said: “It’s an unbelievable feeling. I came here with Godolphin (as racing manager) and we had 60 odd winners, but we didn’t win the Britannia, so I’ve ticked that box now!
“(It is) fantastic, what a lovely horse (and he is) improving. I thought the handicapper had under-rated him when he was second at Yarmouth to Without Parole.
“I told (owner) Sheikh Mohammed Obaid we were beaten by a good horse and we were well clear of the third. The sectionals told us we were much better than the horse that won the first division of that race and, without putting a curse on the horse, I really fancied him. I thought he’d go well.
“He is a great traditional owner/breeder who supports racing through thick and thin. He has had some wonderful horses and my association with him goes back to the days when we trained Dubawi for him.
“Hence, when I started training he supported me and he has always backed me.
“It wasn’t the plan to make the running. I told Silvestre he was a bit gassy but had a good turn of foot and just to stalk the pace. At halfway I thought he’d gone too quick and we’d cooked our goose, but Silvestre is a world-class rider.
“I can’t even begin to think what we will do next.”
De Sousa said: “Simon told me to ride the horse how I found him but he was great from the front. I enjoyed that.
“He was a bit gassy early on so I just wanted to get a rail to get some support. I always had a plan in my mind to get to the stands side. I always knew I was going to win.
“It’s four years since my last winner here so it’s great. I’ve been working very hard so I deserve everything I get at this place.”