Crowley Calls It: “He’s a course and distance winner and I think he’s got a great chance.”
The Champion Jockey talks us through his rides on Coral Eclipse day at Sandown
It was obviously disappointing to lose the ride on Eminent. The connections feel that he should have finished closer in the Derby and, whilst obviously I disagree with that a bit, everyone is entitled to their opinions. I thought he ran very well at Epsom. He was a little bit unlucky as he got squeezed out a little at the end, and I had my stick knocked out of my hand by the jockey next to me just before the winning line, but I don’t think it made any difference. I suppose someone who isn’t horsey might see it in a different light but that’s the game we’re in.
It is always disappointing to lose a ride on a high class horse in a high profile race but things like this happen. Different trainers react in different ways to horses getting beat. It’s just part and parcel of the job. Sometimes you don’t even have to do anything wrong, as we saw recently when Harry Bentley was jocked off Limato. It’s happened to every jockey at some stage in their career, and it’s just unfortunate that this time it’s happened to me. But hopefully on this occasion I might just have picked up a better horse to ride in the race.
I’m really looking forward to riding Ulysses in the race. It’s a great ride to pick up, riding for a genius of a trainer. Ulysses ran a huge race last time in the Prince of Wales, just running into a great horse. There are none tougher than Highland Reel, and if he was running in the Eclipse then I’m sure he’d be favourite. So Ulysses is bang there on form. He is a course and distance winner, and I think he’s got a great chance.
I don’t think I’ve ridden in the race before but have enjoyed plenty of winners at Sandown over the years. The ten furlong track can ride a bit stiff with that uphill finish. It is renowned as being a good front runners track but then sometimes the horses on the lead get racing too early and you see horses win from off the pace there as well. It’s a pretty fair track. There are only the nine runners, when at one stage early in the week it looked like it might have been a bigger field, so there shouldn’t be any hard luck stories. It’s a high class race and you can pretty much make a case for most of the runners in the field.
I think Cliffs of Moher has the strongest form on paper. He beat Eminent fair and square in the Derby but then in fairness you could argue that Eminent didn’t handle the track as well as Cliffs of Moher that day. Both horses are dropping back in trip which might suit Eminent although I felt that he got outpaced in the Derby, which was why he lost his position. If he hadn’t have lost his position then he might not have encountered the trouble he met at the finish. You can make a case for a few of them.
Barney Roy is stepping up in trip and visually you would say that he should be suited by it, but that doesn’t always guarantee that a horse will. The trip should be perfect for Cliffs of Moher. Eminent will definitely stay the mile and a quarter but whether he’s fast enough I don’t know. My horse Ulysses will love the trip and Decorated Knight looks suited by it too. There was very little between Ulysses and Decorated Knight at Ascot, so hopefully we can reverse that form. Now that I have ridden the horse and know him a little better, that will be a huge plus, and could make the difference.
It’s going to be a great race. It’s going to be a tight race. I don’t think we’ll have a horse win by a wide margin. In fact I’m sure it will be a close finish whoever wins the race.
I ride Almoreb who’s a really nice horse. He ran well at Sandown last time when I made the running on him, but it probably didn’t suit him on the lead that day. I just felt he was doing a bit too much out in front but he still ran well. I think he’ll run really well again in this. He won at Newbury the time before when he also made the running but I just think he’ll be even better suited taking a lead. He should go well.
I had a really tough decision to make in this race choosing between Muthmir and Battaash. I went through all the statistics and no horse in the last ten years has won with Muthmir’s weight (9-8) which led me to side with Battaash. But then William Haggas said that the horse had come on again since Ascot. He’s apparently improved loads and is absolutely bouncing, and given his fourth place finish last time in the King’s Stand, then Muthmir could be good enough to carry that weight. His King’s Stand run was very, very good so if he can run again to that level he can defy the penalty.
I’ve never ridden Battaash before and I know Muthmir well, and Dane won on Battaash last time out so he knows the horse. So I think it makes sense on that score too. We both know our horses and whilst it might turn out that I’ve got it wrong, it would still have been the right decision given our respective knowledge of our mounts.
The 5f straight course at Sandown is a bit like riding in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp. It’s set away from the crowd and is very quiet at the start and throughout the race. You don’t hear the crowd at all. It does suit front runners, and if you’re on a hold up horse drawn low on the far rail there, you can get in quite a lot of traffic trouble. I’m drawn eight on Muthmir so he should be able to come with a nice clear run.
I had a decision to make here too with Rusumaat and Muntazah. Muntazah is dropping back in trip and is apparently going really well at home. It would be no big surprise if he ran a great race. He has some lovely bits of form. But I have stuck with Rusumaat. He didn’t run so well at Royal Ascot but the time before that he won the Silver Bowl up at Haydock. He made the running that day and seemed to like it. Mark Johnston’s horses always run very well around Sandown. The track seems to suit his horses. Rusumaat will be a good ride.
He ran really well at Royal Ascot in the Queen Alexandra over 2m 5f. He stays very well. It was a good race last time, with the likes of Thomas Hobson, Oriental Fox, US Army Ranger, the horses that finished in front of him. It was great form. Hopefully he can run a good race. He is taking on Oriental Fox again on the same weights but a shorter trip and a different track, so we’ll have to see if he can turn that form around. Whatever happens Fun Mac will run his race.
I don’t mind the hot weather personally. It’s just frustrating that when the ground gets really firm, the tracks then start watering, and some tracks do a better job than others. I went to Newbury last night and I had three non runners which was annoying really as they all had good chances. When it does get very hot you can lose out on rides.