Jim Crowley believes there are plenty of positives to be taken out of Royal Ascot despite being pipped to a first leading rider award at the meeting by Frankie Dettori.
Having been in pole position for much of the Flat racing’s summer showpiece thanks to an opening-day treble, the 2016 champion jockey was denied by Dettori, who matched his six winners helped by a final day hat-trick to secure the prize for the seventh time on countback, thanks to four seconds.
While naturally disappointed to miss out on claiming the title, the father of three was far from despondent with his final figure – which doubled his tally of previous winners at the Royal meeting.
Crowley said: “It was a little bit annoying to get chinned by Frankie Dettori on countback, but if you had to said to me at the start of the week I would ride six winners and get beaten on countback for leading jockey I would have taken it.
“Nothing is going to beat being champion jockey, as that is a real dot on the card. This though is another step forward. To go to Royal Ascot and have such a good week is unbelievable
“I thought on the Tuesday that I would have a good day. I picked the outsider of our runners in the Buckingham Palace Stakes which raised a few eyebrows, but luckily I got that right.
“Battaash as we know was brilliant and Nazeef really battled to win the Duke of Cambridge. To end the first day of Royal Ascot with a treble was brilliant.”
Equally important to Crowley was the fact that all six of his winners were gained in Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s famous blue and white silks, helping his boss end Coolmore’s three-year stint as leading owner at the meeting since the inception of the award in 2017.
He said: “That was important, as there is nobody I would rather ride winners for. It’s my job and I am in a very fortunate position, but Sheikh Hamdan puts a lot into the sport. It was great to see him end the meeting as leading owner.
“We’ve got a lot of smart horses this year which is great and hopefully we can continue to enjoy more big-race winners.”
When it comes to highlights nothing in the eyes of Crowley comes close to matching the victory gained by Battaash, who made it third time lucky in the King’s Stand Stakes.
He said: “Battaash has to be the highlight of the week. He really deserved it. It was very weird after the race as he stopped to look to see if there was a crowd, but there was only empty stands.
“He had bumped into a very good horse the past two years, but Ascot is not a speed track and as we know Battaash is all about speed. I was little bit worried as he was fresh early on and I thought he might not see the five out. He is a very special horse and I think he silenced any doubters.
“He has got the big three (Abbaye, Nunthorpe and King’s Stand) and that puts him up there with the best sprinters. I’m just lucky to be riding a horse of that calibre.”
Though victory for Battaash gave Crowley an immense amount of personal satisfaction, he has high hopes the best days are still in front of a number of his other winners.
He said: “There is not one in particular that I would say I would put above the other. Khaloosy was very impressive in the Britannia and won like a Group horse, while his stablemate Molatham who won the Jersey looks exciting.
“I thought Hukum did very well to win the King George V Stakes on his third start and he looks to have plenty more to come. Qaader, who finished second in the Coventry, looks very exciting and we know that race usually throws up plenty of good horses, while Khaadem looks to have plenty of big days ahead after finishing fourth in the Diamond Jubilee.”
Plenty may have gone right for Crowley at this year’s Royal meeting, but he feels he could have had a seventh winner had things panned out differently for the Marcus Tregoning-trained Mohaather in the Queen Anne Stakes.
He said: “Mohaather was the one that got away in the Queen Anne. Nine times out of 10 the horses would go up the middle of the track in Queen Anne. The field got split into two groups and I got shuffled back, then they tracked over to the stands rail. I will not be the only jockey though who thought they should have won on something and didn’t.
“I am sure the likes of Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori if they had done something differently would have had other winners, but at the end of the day I got six right so I’m happy. Hopefully this will set me up for the rest of the year.”