Jim Crowley: “He’s the main reason I’m going up to Newcastle”
The Champion Jockey takes us through his rides on a busy Easter weekend and looks head to the Craven meeting
It wasn’t easy deciding where to ride on Good Friday as there was a nice French-trained horse Qurbaan running in the Mile at Lingfield for the boss, and there are also runners at Bath, but I’ve opted for Newcastle. It’s a shame that we’ve got three big prize money meetings on Good Friday and then the rest of the long weekend is pretty limited. On Saturday there’s only Kempton and Brighton on the Flat in England, only one Flat meeting at Southwell on Sunday, and then just Wolverhampton and Redcar on the Flat on Bank Holiday Monday. Wouldn’t it be better to put one big prize money meeting on each day over Easter rather than three all on Good Friday?
Good Friday – Newcastle
I have two of my retained rides at Newcastle. The first is Mustajeer for Owen Burrows in the 3.25. He’s having his first start of the season. He has very few miles on the clock and was second in the Free Handicap this time last year, to Ventura’s Storm, and then ran just once after that. He’s a nice horse and is well drawn. I think he can run a big race. He certainly looks like a nice type of horse.
I think Newcastle is the best of the all-weather tracks. It’s my favourite and it’s just a pity it’s so far away. The surface is good and it’s a big galloping track so you have a lot of time out there and there’s a nice long straight. On the straight mile there aren’t ever many hard luck stories either.
I then ride Taamool in the 3.55 for Sir Michael Stoute. I really like this horse. He’s only run twice, winning first time up at Newmarket last year, and then ran in the Flying Scotsman at Doncaster. It all went wrong for him that day, as the ground went against him and he was very keen. I really like his chance, and of course it’s a good race, but it would be no shock if he won. He’s up against South Seas who won the Solario last year and was second to Thunder Snow in the Criterium. The Godolphin horse Syphax won the Acomb at York last year. So it’s a competitive race but my horse has been working really well at home. He’s the main reason I’m going up to Newcastle.
I have a third ride on the day on Briardale for James Bethell. I will do a bit of homework on the horse as I haven’t ridden him before. It’s also a long time since I’ve ridden for James Bethell. In fact I think I rode a winner for him when I was an amateur about sixteen years ago.
Easter Saturday – Kempton and Brighton
I then have a busy day on Easter Saturday with two rides at Kempton and six at Brighton.
I ride a two year old for Paul Cole in the 2.00 called Plunger. He’s very good at readying his two year olds and they say this one’s ready. My only concern is the fact he’s drawn seven of seven on the sprint course there. You’d always prefer to be drawn low on the inside, as that’s a massive advantage. Paul Cole’s two year olds always know their job first time out and there have been good vibes coming out about him from the yard.
Kempton is a very fair track but there are two courses there, with five furlong and ten furlong races finishing on the inside bend, rather than the outside bend, which means you have a much shorter finishing straight. So it suits horses on the front end and therefore pays to have a good draw.
I then ride Solar Flair in the 3.10. We just got touched off last time, in a heads-up, heads-down situation. But I was pleased with that run because he’d shown nothing in Dubai over the Carnival. His form there had really tailed off. He loves Kempton and I think he’ll be hard to beat. He’ll probably go off favourite and hopefully will go one better than last time.
I then drive down to Brighton for six rides. I love Brighton. I’ve been very lucky at Brighton over the years. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea but I love the place. There is a knack of riding the track and I enjoy it. I don’t often leave Brighton winner-less. The clerk of the course does a very good job and over the last couple of seasons the ground hasn’t been rattling fast like it used to be there. They always seem to produce nice ground.
Katrine in the 5.05 for William Knight should have a good chance. Tafaakhor should win the maiden at 5.35 for Richard Hannon. He’s one of my boss, Sheikh Hamdan’s horses. He would be my stand-out ride on the card and is the main reason I’m going down to Brighton.
I ride Archangel Raphael for the sister-in-law in the 6.05. Her horses are running well and he would have a chance. I ride Pernickety in the 6.35 for Lucy Wadham. He’s very well bred. I’ve only ridden him once when I was second at Chelmsford. I like riding for Lucy and she actually rang me personally as she thinks this horse will run a big race. She was very keen for me to ride this horse.
I ride Equal Rights in the 7.05 on his first start in a handicap. I rode him on his second start last year but don’t know what’s expected on his seasonal debut. Then in the last I ride Essaka who loves Brighton. I won on him for Tony Carroll last year. He’s a real Brighton specialist. He really loves it round there.
The Craven Meeting at Newmarket
I’m really looking forward to the Craven Meeting next week. I will have plenty of nice rides. On the Tuesday I ride a nice Frankel-horse, Elyaasaat, for William Haggis in the Wood Ditton, which is for unraced three year olds. He’s very well bred and has been going nicely. I ride a nice unraced two year old called Seyaady for Mark Johnston. I’ll be on Zhui Feng for Amanda. He’ll run his race. He’s a talented horse. I could see him winning a good race but I couldn’t tell you when. He’s that type of horse. In the Alex Scott maiden I have two nice rides to choose from and I haven’t decided which to ride yet. I have to pick between Ejaaby for Roger Varian and Tamleek for Saeed Bin Suroor. Making
Choosing between nice horses to ride in the same races will be a feature of this retainer with Sheikh Hamdan. We have eight entered for the Wood Ditton for example although fortunately they won’t all run. We have Newbury on Friday and Saturday too, so all these horses will have multiple entries, but some will still run against each-other and decisions will have to be made. The horses that like slightly easier ground will probably go to Newbury. Also the undulations at Newmarket mean you have to be a very well balanced horse to act there, and some horses may be better suited to Newbury.
On Wednesday I have the choice between two nice fillies, in the maiden, Hadeeqa for Simon Crisford and Manaahil for Charlie Hills. Both are very nice fillies and if they both run they’ll have good chances. I’m jocked up on Berkshire in the Earl of Sefton.
I’m just really looking forward to it. I’ve been riding out a lot in Newmarket and there is a real buzz around the place. Everybody is full of hope and positivity, no bubbles have been burst yet, and there’s an air of excitement as the season proper approaches. We have some really nice horses to run at these meetings so hopefully we can find a few gems.
I’m doing much more travelling around, riding out at different yards, at this stage of the season than I’ve done before thanks to this new retainer for Sheikh Hamdan. I’m really enjoying it too. When you ride work on a young horse and think you’ve found something special it gives you a great buzz. It’s like riding a winner when you sit on one that works really well and gets you excited about riding him or her on the track. It’s been great fun riding out on so many horses and at all the different yards in the mornings. I went up to Newmarket and rode a lovely horse this week called Eminent at Martyn Meade’s. He’s a big Frankel colt, and he could be a Guineas horse, and then a Dante horse afterwards. I really enjoyed riding work on him and can’t wait to get the leg-up on him when he runs.
I am developing a filing system to keep notes and records on all the different horses I’m sitting on. It’s the only way to keep on top of so many horses, as we have such a vast team this season.