Crow­ley ea­ger to com­plete ‘un­fin­ished busi­ness’ in St Leger

Cham­pion has be­come the ‘turn-to’ rider for all the big­gest races, writes Mar­cus Army­tage

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Racing -

As much as be­ing cham­pion is a feather in any jockey’s cap, it is rid­ing big win­ners, par­tic­u­larly Clas­sics and Group Ones, that mat­ters most. Al­though that has not re­ally hap­pened for Sil­vestre de Sousa since he was cham­pion in 2015, the nor­mal pro­gres­sion for most jock­eys who start rid­ing lots of win­ners, like Jim Crow­ley, who rides the 5-1 favourite Crys­tal Ocean in the Wil­liam Hill St Leger at Don­caster to­day, is that the Group One win­ners start to flow.

In that re­gard this sea­son, with Ulysses win­ning the Eclipse Stakes and Jud­dmonte In­ter­na­tional and Here Comes When spring­ing a sur­prise in the Sus­sex, has been more of a break­through year for Crow­ley than 2016, when he won the ti­tle for the first time.

Iron­i­cally, while the job he be­gan this year as Sheikh Ham­dan Al Mak­toum’s re­tained jockey seemed to hold back his pre­de­ces­sor, Paul Hana­gan, the owner’s short­age of Group One per­form­ers has meant that Crow­ley has be­come one of the first choices for any de­cent spare rides.

“The St Leger is a good race this year,” he said. “I was sec­ond in 2013 on Tal­ent so I feel I have some un­fin­ished busi­ness. No mat­ter what po­si­tion you are in, Crys­tal Ocean is a ter­rific spare ride to pick up – they’re hard to come by.”

De­spite a win­ner at the top level for Sheikh Ham­dan prov­ing elu­sive it has been a good first sea­son for the pair­ing. “My first ride for the boss was a win­ner, I had some luck in Dubai and we’ve had plenty of Group win­ners,” said Crow­ley.

“He seems to have some lovely two-year-olds com­ing through, which is ex­cit­ing. Hope­fully there are a few gems for next year among them. It can be tough rid­ing for so many dif­fer­ent train­ers and you can’t keep every­one happy all the time, but I’m do­ing the best I can and hope­fully I’m do­ing a good job.”

He has not done too much wrong for Sir Michael Stoute on the few oc­ca­sions they have linked up and Crys­tal Ocean has a sim­i­lar pro­file to Stoute’s only Leger win­ner Con­duit, who came to Don­caster in 2008 af­ter win­ning the Gor­don Stakes at Good­wood.

Sir Eve­lyn de Roth­schild’s home­bred Crys­tal Ocean beat Kha­lidi by 3½ lengths in the soft at Good­wood, when rid­den by Ryan Moore, so to­day’s ground will hold no ter­rors for him. That said, the faster it is the greater his chance of stay­ing the 1¾ mile trip.

What was far more telling at Good­wood than the style of that win was the glint in Stoute’s eye af­ter the race. It was part one of a plan one sus­pects he has had at the back of his mind per­haps since the Dante in May when Crys­tal Ocean fin­ished a close third. Part two is, as with Con­duit, a one-off crack at to­day’s trip be­fore drop­ping back in dis­tance next year.

This looks a vin­tage St Leger and it will surely take a bit of win­ning. Al­though Frankie Det­tori has gone with the well-backed Coronet, her sta­ble com­pan­ion Stradi­var­ius won the Good­wood Cup over two miles on ground with def­i­nite ease in it so, should be stay­ing on best at the fin­ish. How­ever, I be­lieve that Crys­tal Ocean can give Crow­ley his first Clas­sic suc­cess and Stoute his first since Work­force won the 2010 Derby.

Mar­ket forces: Crys­tal Ocean and Jim Crow­ley are favourites to win the St Leger

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.