Jim Crowley: has eight rides at Brighton’s final meeting
PICTURE: Getty Images
By David Ashforth 5:40PM 12 OCT 2016
AND so we say farewell to Brighton, staging its final meeting of the year. Jockeys still haven’t worked out whether it’s best to come up the far side, the near side, or the middle but perhaps they will next year. They do know that, after they’ve passed the winning post, they need to pull up sharpish to avoid crashing through the fence at the end. Amazingly, I’ve never seen a horse do that.
Thursday’s meeting has both quantity and quality, although the quality is rather low, possibly because the day’s most valuable race is worth only £3,588 to the winner. Let’s not dwell on that but on the fact that there are eight races contested by 89 horses. With six “Brighton handicaps” (an expression meaning “find the winners of that lot if you can!”) it’s an ideal fixture for bookmakers to sponsor but Brighton & Hove Albion are sponsoring all the handicaps, instead.
Kick off is at 1.30 with a maiden race featuring Shadow Wing. Unplaced in her eight races so far and rated 53, what is eye-catching about Shadow Wing is not that she might win – although they never thought a man would land on the moon, either – but that she is trained and ridden by Ann Stokell.
The redoubtable Stokell, aged 51 but still claiming 5lb, must love working with horses and it’s impossible not to admire her enduring enthusiasm because the horses she has ridden and trained have not usually been easy to win with. One more winning ride this year will make it six and be her best season as a jockey. As a trainer since 1997, Stokell has reached double figures once, in 2014, when Stephen Arnold had his horses with her, having previously had them first with Paddy Butler, then Richard Guest, then Violet Jordan and now with Heather Dalton.
Like Saeed bin Suroor, who opposes Shadow Wing with Gmaash, Stokell’s horses all run in the same colours, albeit those of Geoff Pacey rather than Godolphin. It would be lovely if the journey from Lincolnshire ended in triumph and Simply Black offers hope in the 0-55 sprint handicap (4.50). The five-year-old sprang to life when third at 100-1 in a similar race at Chelmsford last month. Where there’s life there’s said to be hope so let’s hope that Simply Black gets to the start safely.
Jim Crowley has a ride in all eight races and, if he’s not too exhausted, I’m hoping to see the racecourse present our new champion jockey with an enormous stick of Brighton rock. Obviously, he won’t be able to eat it himself but I expect his children will offer to help.
Later, at Chelmsford, there will be a lot of jokes before and after the two-mile handicap (8.20). That’s because Le Tissier is running. He hasn’t scored yet, will he score today, he never did like running – that kind of thing.
Finally, as well as congratulations to Crowley, ditto to champion apprentice Josephine Gordon, who has been a pleasure to watch.