Few meetings are as difficult to get winners at than Royal Ascot given the level of competition – but there appeared to be no stopping Jim Crowley who took the riding plaudits with a first-day treble.
While no stranger to success at the meeting, victories at the showpiece fixture have been few and far between for the 2016 champion jockey since his breakthrough success aboard Prohibit in the King’s Stand Stakes back in 2011.
Starting the day off in perfect fashion aboard the Richard Hannnon-trained Motakhayyel in the Buckingham Palace Handicap, the 41-year-old then made it third time lucky aboard Charlie Hills’ stable star Battaash in the King’s Stand Stakes.
Just when it seemed Crowley’s day could not get any better, Nazeef continued her rise through the ranks with a first Pattern-race success in the Group Two Duke of Cambridge Stakes – a victory which completed a double for her trainer John Gosden, who was earlier successful with Frankly Darling in the Ribblesdale Stakes.
Crowley said: “To get three winners on the first day of Royal Ascot is good as it sets you up for the week.
“I thought the first horse would win, but no one else did, so luckily I got that one right. I thought Mohaather (in the Queen Anne) would win, he was really unlucky but he is a lovely horse and has run a good race.
“It was great to make it third time lucky on Battaash and the filly (Nazeef) was coming off a nice win in the Snowdrop and she toughed it out really well. She has improved with every run.”
Though any winner at Royal Ascot is one to be savoured, it was the victory of Battaash that stood out for Crowley given the six-year-old’s back story.
With Blue Point, his conqueror from the previous two renewals, now at standing at stud the door was open for the Dark Angel gelding to finally land the five-furlong dash, which he duly did by two and a quarter lengths from stablemate Equilateral.
He said: “I had some nice rides today and they all ran very well.
“I’m very lucky to be riding nice horses for nice yards and that has probably got to be the key.
“It was redemption on Battaash. It was lovely to come here as he had some unfinished business and we got it done.
“It is a great day, a special day.”
Following Crowley’s hat-trick, he was cut by Ladbrokes to 4-1 from 25-1 to be crowned leading rider at the meeting for the first time.