7th September 2015

So, Silvestre de Sousa is going to the USA to try and ply his trade there. I can’t blame him. It’s quite simple, the money is a lot better there and he has no retainer to tie him to the UK. It is apparently something that he has been considering for some time and probably relates to uncertainty about the support he was going to get in the UK as a freelance although, as it turns out, he is clear in the championship.

What bothers me is the timing. He is leaving straight after Champions Day, October 17th. That’s exactly what I predicted would happen if they moved the end of the championship.

If the championship ended on November 7th or thereabouts, as has been the case in recent years, would Silvestre be leaving before then? I’m sure the answer is no, despite his commanding lead. And, if it ended on 31st December, it is possible that he, and others, would ride in Britain right to the end of the year and that we would have less of a drain to sunnier and more lucrative climes.

As it happens, the next three jockeys in the championship table all have retainers from Dubai based owners so they will stay here as long as their employers dictate and will, presumably, leave for Dubai at some stage so the championship dates will only have limited affect on their movements. And the next two, Luke Morris and Jim Crowley, tend to remain in the UK anyway. But it is clear that the change in championship dates has resulted in the premature departure of our leading rider this year and that is exactly what I said would happen.

As I have said many times before, if you are going to make the championship meaningful and especially if you are going to put significant money behind it, you must structure it to drive the behaviour that you want. Surely, we don’t want our top riders to ride in Britain for less than six months of the year?
I wonder if Silvestre will come back. There must be a significant risk that he won’t although I understand that he is planning to start off in New York and I think he might find the winter conditions there to be far worse than he has ever encountered at Wolverhampton. What is almost certain is that, if he does come back, and they leave the jockeys championship as it stands, we are unlikely to see him again before the Guineas meeting in May.

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