He’s the champion flat jockey, Goodwood racecourse ambassador and leading rider at the track so far this season. But Jim Crowley is determined to treat festival week as just another meeting.
That’s not to show it any disrespect – it’s because, as he explains, a jockey simply has to get on with the job of trying to ride winners and stay detached from all the hype and headlines linked to Glorious or any other top festival.
Pulborough-based Crowley, 38, had a dream 2016 season, being crowned champion flat jockey after a close battle with Silvestre de Sousa – and riding a record number of winners in a month, 46 in September, in the process.
It earned him the job of retained rider to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, a role that, although is helping him to another good haul of winners this year, means he will not go tearing around the country in search of enough rides and wins to retain his crown.
There’ll be plenty of focus on him during Glorious, for he is racecourse ambassador for 2017 and has more wins at the track so far this season than any of his rivals in the saddle. And he’ll be out to increase that lead from August 1 to 5.
Crowley told us: “I love Goodwood and everything about it. I love riding there and winning there. I’d say it’s been a lucky track for me.
“It’s a unique track, tricky. I’ve made mistakes at Goodwood like everyone else has, but of course experience helps over time. Having said that, no two Goodwood races pan out exactly the same.”
Crowley’s first Goodwood winner was Safari Mischief for the Goodwood Racehorse Owners’ Group in 2006 and he has had seven Glorious-week winners. His festival high point to date is Illustrious Blue’s win for William Knight in the 2010 Goodwood Cup but he has also claimed Festival Stakes, Glorious Stakes and Lillie Langtry Stakes victories.
This year, his boss has entered Mutakayyef in the Qatar Sussex Stakes on Wednesday and Muthmir in the King George sprint on the Friday, among others.
“I’m looking forward to the festival and should have plenty of runners. As a jockey I don’t get involved in all the hype. I’ll just concentrate on the job in hand, on each ride,” he said.
“It’s been great to be Goodwood’s racecourse ambassador this year. I like the whole feel of Goodwood, not just the racing. Lord March does a super job with the whole estate and I’m grateful to be a small part of it.”
Read more from Jim Crowley and other key Qatar Goodwood Festival figures in our exclusive Glorious magazine – out now
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