Crowley Calls It: “If she can justify her price she could be a lovely ride to pick up”
The Champion Jockey reflects on his Eclipse success and previews this Thursday Newmarket rides
Five days on from the Coral-Eclipse and I’m still feeling fantastic about the victory on board Ulysses. It was a great ride to pick up, he’s obviously a very good horse and I felt that riding him in the Prince Of Wales’s at Royal Ascot helped me learn a bit about him, and meant I was able to hang onto him, and he gave me a great ride. It was a great thrill to win a race like the Eclipse, it’s one of the big races of the year, right up there with the King George and those sort of races.
He gave me a great feel through the race, I let them get on with it and followed them round, I was able to track Barney Roy and get a tow into the race. It was a rough race down the inside, with four trying to go into two, and we managed to avoid all the scrimmaging early on, which meant I could keep filling him up. I actually thought I’d win by a little bit further, but in fairness to Barney Roy, he’s tough and came back at us. When we passed the post I really wasn’t sure, it’s a difficult angle at Sandown, and having thought I was going to win by a head or a neck, the other horse came back at me and it was so close. I’m not one for punching the air – I don’t think I’ve ever done it! – but when the result was called, it was such a great feeling it just came out.
I was disappointed at the start of the week to lose the ride on Eminent, but racing is a great leveller and a game of swings and roundabouts, and I was lucky the cards fell my way. I don’t do pressure, I don’t know why but things like that don’t worry me, and I was just looking forward to riding the horse. Sir Michael [Stoute] is a genius of a trainer, he doesn’t tell you what to do, I knew how to ride the horse and just had to go out there and get the job done.
It’s up to connections and my commitments to Sheikh Hamdan, but obviously I would like to keep the partnership with Ulysses going for the rest of the season, I’m not looking too far down the line and was very grateful to get the ride at Ascot and Sandown, so what will be, will be. He’s won over twelve furlongs, ten furlongs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had the speed to win over a mile, he has all the signs of being a very good horse. In my first year of doing this blog, it was also great to win Coral’s big race of the year, hopefully a few of you were on him!
A busy first day of the Newmarket July meeting, with rides in all seven races, beginning with Tamleek in the Bahrain Trophy, a horse I know well. His fourth at Chester behind Venice Beach and Wings Of Eagles obviously looks a decent run now, and I thought the ground at Royal Ascot was probably a bit fast for him, and it all happened just too quickly for him. Hopefully the drop of rain they’ve had at Newmarket will be in his favour, and although it’s a competitive race, he’s a lovely horse and I’d be disappointed if he didn’t outrun his odds.
This race is an early trial for the St Leger, and when I rode him at Chester, I got off him and thought a longer trip could suit him. He was dropped back in trip at Ascot but with the quick ground not in his favour there, this should be more his race, as he’s not a horse who does anything too quickly, and the trip should be well within his compass.
I ride Enjazaat for the boss in the Group Two July Stakes. I rode him when he won at Yarmouth last time, he’s a very nice horse who they think a lot of at home, although the race he won was not a strong race, and was run in a howling gale and torrential rain. He won it well though, but he will have to improve and step up to the plate, as we’ve got the Coventry winner in the race to set the standard. However my horse has gone under the radar, he’s only had the two runs so I’d like to think there’s room for improvement, and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if he ran a big race.
I was due to ride the top weight Eqtiraan in the six furlong handicap but he’s a non runner so I’ve switched to Ekhtiyaar for Sheikh Hamdan. He was a shade disappointing at York last time but the time before that won at Newmarket when I couldn’t do the weight. At York the ground was quick, whereas at Newmarket it was good to soft, so I’m hoping the ground doesn’t get too fast as his best form is with a bit of juice in the ground. If you forgive him his last run, he’s off a nice weight here and should have a good chance.
In the feature Princess Of Wales’s Stakes I ride Muntahaa. He got a bump in the Hardwicke last time out, Ascot can be a tricky place as you run downhill and it’s difficult to get horses to relax, and Muntahaa can be a little bit keen as we saw in the Leger last year. He has been much better this year, settling very well in his races, and his only previous blip came on the soft ground at York. He is the outsider of the field here, but I’m hoping he can get back on track, and like a few of mine here, he could outrun his odds.
In the fillies’ maiden I’m on Lamya for Richard Hannon. She was an expensive breeze-up purchase with a lovely pedigree, and although I don’t know much about her, if she can justify her price she could be a lovely ride to pick up. I’ve been down to Richard’s to ride out, it’s a great place to visit and I really enjoy going there, they have great facilities and we’ve seen over the years they can ready a two-year-old alright.
Shamshon, my ride in the five furlong handicap, is making a quick reappearance having finished third at Sandown last Friday. I haven’t ridden this gelding before, but Stuart Williams is a shrewd trainer and a good man to ride for and this one has to be respected, being out again so soon.
My final ride of the day is on Beat The Bank for Andrew Balding. He finished mid division in the Jersey Stakes, but won his only two starts before that, including a conditions race on the Rowley Mile. I’d forgive a horse a bad run at the Royal meeting, so this could be a good ride to pick up in this Listed contest, he could run well.