Racing: De Souza hits high note on Toldo

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The Independent Online

The Brazilian jockey Nelson De Souza choose an appropriate week to ride his biggest winner in Britain yesterday when he landed the £123,000 Northumberland Plate on 33-1 chance Toldo in front of a near-20,000 crowd at Newcastle yesterday.

De Souza, 23, was paying his first visit to the North-east course, and had the grey prominent throughout the two-mile event before kicking on over two furlongs out. Greenwich Meantime, who finished third, came with a strong challenge inside the final quarter-mile, but never looked like catching the winner, who held off the late challenge by a neck from the fast-finishing River Alhaarth. However, the winning rider was banned for two days (13 and 15 July) for using his whip with excessive frequency.

Toldo was realising a lifetime's ambition for a local owner, John Armstrong, a retired civil servant from Whitburn near Sunderland, who said: "When I was younger the Plate was the only race in town, and it's been a dream come true."

The successful trainer, George Moore, was winning the race for the second time following Highflying's success in 1993 and added: "The owner has had this race in mind since he claimed him here as a two-year-old for £8,000, and he said his ambition was to come back here and win the Plate. The horse only had 8st 5lb and the owner is a big fan of De Souza."

De Souza, who is apprenticed to Paul Cole, is one of around 50 Brazilians employed in the Lambourn area, was born in Sao Paulo and came to Britain three years ago, as racing in his country is going through a recession.

Brazilians are relatively new arrivals on the British racing scene, and the last South American jockey to hit the headlines was Brauilio Baeza, who rode Roberto to victory in the 1972 Benson and Hedges Gold Cup at York - a race which ended the legendary Brigadier Gerard's unbeaten run.

In Ireland yesterday Alexander Goldrun made hard work of winning the Group One Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh by a neck from Chelsea Rose, but trainer Jim Bolger still has big plans for the five-year-old.

Bolger said: "I think she was looking after herself a bit in the last furlong. She doesn't need a lot of work and is only asked to do it on the track. She still has a great appetite for racing and the plan now is to go for the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, the race she won last year, and the Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

"After that we will see about things, but the Prix de l'Opera is a possibility and, hopefully, another tilt at the Hong Kong Cup if we get an invitation again."