Crowley sealed victory on Gmaash in the opening race at Brighton
PICTURE: Getty images
By Mark Storey 7:30PM 13 OCT 2016
HE STARTED the season as a 66-1 shot but Jim Crowley was last night celebrating as he sealed the Stobart Flat jockeys’ championship in what he described as the proudest moment of his riding career.
The 38-year-old, who spent his first ten seasons as a jumps jockey, completed his rise to the pinnacle of Flat riding as Gmaash crossed the line to win a 6f maiden at Brighton yesterday, making his lead over reigning champion Silvestre De Sousa unassailable.
Crowley will be crowned on Qipco Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday but, typically for a man whose success has been hallmarked by ceaseless work and an iron will, not before heading from his Sussex home for six rides at Redcar today.
Bursting with pride
“Even now I’ve won it I can’t quite believe it,” he said. “Maybe it will sink in on Saturday with a release of emotions.
“But I’m so proud. I’ve achieved something worthwhile and hopefully my kids will be proud of me. For every jockey it’s their ambition. To do it is without doubt the highlight of my career.
“It’s been a really amazing journey through the season and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It’s been extremely hard work but I’ve thrived off it.
“Coming from jumping it’s not really something I set out to when I started riding on the Flat. It seemed a million miles away.”
Amazing title battle
In an epic tussle with De Sousa, Crowley emerged from the pack with 38 winners in August to take the lead before a record-breaking September of 46 winners – and the first person he paid tribute to was his title rival.
He said: “Silvestre De Sousa has been brilliant to ride against. He’s a top man and a top jockey. He’s like RoboCop. I thought I could pull clear of him but he kept coming back. I saw him win on horses that probably shouldn’t have won. But it’s probably brought the best out in me as well.