After the first two days of the Royal Ascot meeting, Jim Crowley is the leading jockey with four wins and one third place. Here’s all you need to know about the jump jockey turned champion Flat jockey...
Life as a jump jockey
Jim began his racing career as an amateur Flat race jockey before becoming a professional National Hunt jockey, riding for West Yorkshire trainer Sue Smith and her husband, former top showjumper Harvey Smith.
“Working for them was brilliant, one of the best times in my life and I was taught so much — Harvey is such a gifted horseman,” Jim told H&H in 2017.
Under the jumps code, Jim rode around 300 winners, before switching to become a Flat jockey. But growing up, Jim never envisaged a career as a Flat jockey. “As a kid, I thought that game was for wimps,” he quipped.
Aged 27, Jim decided to change codes and started riding for West Sussex trainer and his sister-in-law Amanda Perrett. In 2010, he became stable jockey for Ralph Beckett’s yard.
“I wasn’t struggling over jumps — I was riding on average 50 wins a season — but I wasn’t where I wanted to be,” explained Jim. “If I’d stayed as a jump jockey it’s likely I’d be retired by now. I made the decision to change and have never looked back.”
A champion Flat jockey
Jim won his first champion Flat jockey title in 2016, beating the 2015 champion Silvestre de Sousa into runner-up spot.
He also broke the record for most winners ridden in a month with 46 victories in September that year.
“I overheard someone in the weighing room say Silvestre couldn’t be beaten and he’d definitely win the title,” reflected Jim. “If a person says I can’t do something it really gets my back up — from then on I was obsessed with becoming champion jockey.”
Jim lifted the prestigious trophy at Ascot’s Champions Day — Flat racing’s season finale — in 2016, having ridden 189 winners that year.
A top job
In November 2016, Jim was announced as the new number one jockey to leading owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, for whom he has partnered and won on multiple horses already at Royal Ascot this week.
“I got the phone call totally out of blue — I wasn’t expecting it at all,” remembered Jim. “Those opportunities don’t come around often.
“Your career instantly goes to another level; it’s a massive change. Riding as a freelance jockey was great as you could always pick up a spare ride, but now I am riding some of the best-bred racehorses in the country.”
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The 41-year-old jockey, who hails from Ascot, lives in West Sussex with his wife, Lucinda, and their three children, Alice, Bella and Sam, who are already hooked on the sport and enjoy riding their ponies at home.
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