Jim Crowley reached a major milestone at Goodwood as he secured his 2,000th career winner in Britain aboard Modmin.
The former champion jockey enjoyed a memorable Ebor Festival at York, with six winners highlighted by sprint sensation Battaash’s Nunthorpe victory as part of a fabulous Friday four-timer.
He needed two more winners for his landmark heading into a new week, and suffered a few frustrating days before getting Zahratty home at Newmarket on Saturday.
The Marcus Tregoning-trained Modmin looked to hold every chance of giving Crowley his milestone, and so it proved as the 30-100 favourite made all in the Ladbrokes Supporting ‘Children With Cancer UK’ Novice Stakes.
Crowley said: “I was thinking I had maybe used up all my luck!
“It has been a fantastic season so far and I hope it continues. It was nice to do it here as it’s my local track. I’ve got a lot of fond memories here and to ride it in these colours for Marcus was nice.
“There’s been a couple of rides that have given me great satisfaction. The first one that sticks in my memory is winning the Eclipse on Ulysses.
“I’d lost the ride on Eminent and to get the ride for Sir Michael Stoute, who is a legend of a trainer – to get up and win was special.
“Battaash at York was a highlight the first year and Mohaather winning in the fashion he did in such a good race here (Sussex Stakes), those three really stick out for me and it is hard to pick one.”
It is 14 years since the former northern-based jumps rider switched codes.
Exactly a decade later, he was crowned Britain’s champion Flat jockey – before being appointed number one rider to one of the sport’s most prominent owners in Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
Crowley added: “It is massive (becoming retained rider for Sheikh Hamdan). I felt very fortunate to get the job. When I was champion jockey that probably got me noticed. It is a dream come true and touch wood it is going well.”
That association has borne great fruit, never more so than this season as Crowley dominated Royal Ascot with a string of winners in the blue and white before heading to Goodwood in similar form, and then on to York.
Battaash has been pre-eminent among his big-race winners since racing resumed in June, adding a fourth King George Stakes in record time at Goodwood to his King’s Stand at Ascot, en route to York.
Mohaather, Nazeef, Hukum and Enbihaar all kept Crowley centre stage at Group level too – among others this summer.
Their names are famous additions to a roll of honour which began when Karl Burke’s Lord Shanakill provided his first Group One breakthrough in the 2009 Prix Jean Prat.
Before then, there was a smattering of big handicap and lesser Group-race success for a variety of trainers.
Crowley had first made a name for himself, however, on the northern jumps circuit – with the odd foray south.
On one such, Mark Rimell’s Crossbow Creek became one of his highest-profile National Hunt winners in the Lanzarote Hurdle.
It has been a long, highly successful road from Kempton in January to Goodwood in late August – but 15 years on, Crowley is surely far from done yet.
Looking to the future, he said: “I’ve always tried to be as consistent as I can and keep on improving and I still feel I’ve got plenty of improvement in me.
“I didn’t come to the Flat until very late until when I was 26 or 27 and when you see how much lads like Oisin (Murphy) have achieved so early you sometimes wish you had switched sooner.
“I had some great years jumping and hopefully there are plenty of nice winners still to come along.
“When you are jumping you never get too big for your boots and I had some great times and it stood me in good stead. There are few jump jockeys that have seen the light, so maybe I’ve paved the way a bit.
“I won the Lanzarote Hurdle, which was probably the standout one, but I had plenty of winners over jumps – I just never had really big ones, but it was good times.
“When I switched from jumps to Flat it was originally to see how I would get on and try to make a living out of it and I quickly realised that I could get more rides.
“I was light enough, that was key, and my father-in-law Guy Harwood pushed and said I should get my weight down and my sister-in-law Amanda Perrett was a massive supporter of mine and still is now. They really helped me get me going as well.
“I think to come from jumping and become champion jockey was maybe my biggest achievement. If you asked somebody beforehand could a jump jockey be champion on the Flat, it just wouldn’t have seemed possible. That was the standout thing and that has got me noticed.
“We’ve got some lovely horses coming through at the moment and I’m a big fan of Enbihaar and hopefully they just keep coming. It’s not easy as some big operations have lean years, but at the moment we are having a good run.
“It’s not impossible to get 3,000. It might seem a long way away now stood here, but so did 2,000 and so did 1,000. We will keep batting away and see where we end up.”
He added: “I’d love to win a Classic as I’ve been second in an Oaks and two St Legers, not that I’m counting. That is the one thing I would love to do, as I’ve rattled the crossbar in most of them.”