Jim Crowley: “Arbalet looks to have a good chance of getting me off to a winning start”
Our man reflects on Royal Ascot and previews Saturday’s racing action
If you’d told me at the start of last week that I was going to ride six winners at Royal Ascot, I’d have snatched your arm off.
So although it was a bit annoying to get pipped to the leading rider award by that pesky Italian, it was a brilliant week, made all the better as all six winners were for the boss. It’s such a great team effort, so to see Sheikh Hamdan crowned leading owner made it all the sweeter.
Of the six, I have to give special mention to Battaash. Yes, he was entitled to win the King’s Stand against that opposition, but as we know with him the real Battaash doesn’t always turn up and after two second places in the race, I was delighted we made it third time lucky.
I was also pleased to have picked the right horse in the Buckingham Palace. Motakhayyel was a much bigger price than Daarik and Mutamaasik and it got the stage where I began to doubt myself. Did people know more than me? But I judged it right and that got the meeting off to the best possible start.
One other I have to mention is Khaloosy, who ran away with the Britannia. He has been put up 17 pounds for that win so it will be Group races for him now, which is only right, but it was a case of job done in terms of the Ascot race.
The half dozen Ascot winners has lifted me up the jockeys’ title race standings but whether that is the stepping stone to another championship attempt, we’ll have to see how things go. It is a shorter season this year but my first responsibility is to Sheikh Hamdan.
As we saw at Ascot, he has some real quality this year but to win the title I’d need to pick up some decent outside rides too. It could happen – let’s wait and see how things pan out.
I’ve got a good-looking book of rides at Newmarket and then I’ve got three days ‘holiday’ courtesy of a suspension, so hopefully I can get some more winners on the board before that small break. I haven’t ridden Arbalet since his three-year-old days and he’s now having his third start for David O’Meara.
He did nothing wrong at Redcar last time, just finding one too good. We should be able to come from off a strong pace here. He won’t mind the quick ground and on paper looks to have a good chance of getting the day off to a winning start.
Dane O’Neill was on Raatea when he won at Kempton earlier this month and he impressed me by winning nicely that day so I’d like to think he’ll improve again. Godolphin’s Boccaccio looks the one to beat here but with Marcus Tregoning’s horses running really well, I’d be hopeful.
This was another race when I had to pick between two Sheikh Hamdan runners and I’ve gone for Turjomaan. He ran no race when a big price in last week’s Queen Anne but being by War Front he wants fast ground, which it wasn’t at Ascot, so I’m happy to ignore that run.
Dropping back to Group 3 level here and on quicker ground, I think he’s got a really good chance. Yafta was the other I could have ridden and he did run well on his first run back after a year off, but once again I have to go with my own judgement so I hope I’ve picked the right one.
Just four line up in this race but all four have a chance, including my mount Glenties. He was badly hampered at Goodwood last time and the time before that he ran well at Haydock to finish third.
The second horse that day, Kipps, was second to me at Ascot last week [behind Hukum] so that form looks decent. As I say, only four in what is a tight little race but my fellow would have a chance of getting his first win at the sixth time of asking for a trainer [Mark Johnston] in great form.
Turaath ran a nice race first time up this season at Newbury and I’d expect her to come forward again from that run. If she makes that improvement she should run well here.
My final ride is Al Qaqaa for the boss and William Haggas. He’s still a maiden but he’s run three nice races, finishing third at Yarmouth last time. As another son of War Front he should appreciate this quicker ground.
I’ll certainly be hoping the rain stays away from Newmarket and as he should improve from that Yarmouth run, he should go close here. The big danger could be Moomba, who’s trained by my sister-in-law Amanda Perrett, and came third in a good race at Newbury last time that I won on Al Madhar, but we have a good chance.