Jim Crowley: I wouldn’t swap my fellow for any other horse
Jockey and Coral ambassador Jim Crowley discusses the chances of his four rides at Ascot on Saturday.
This is a massive day at Ascot, not just for us in the Shadwell team, but for the sport, with as good a renewal of the King George as I can remember. Normally, you get two or three class acts lining up in the race, this year there are six or seven runners who I believe could win it, including my mount Hukum, of which more later.
I start on Aljezur. He’s trained by one our neighbours in Sussex, Luke Dace, and it’s great to see one of the smaller yards have a nice looking two-year-old. He ran a lovely race first time up at Newbury, finishing second to a nice type trained by Richard Hannon, and if he can take a step forward from that run, he could give connections a real thrill on this big stage.
Aged eight now, Orbaan is as experienced as I am! He’s a previous course and distance winner and has won these big-field handicaps at the likes of Glorious Goodwood, so at his best he’s very useful. He’s not been in that form recently but if he can recapture his best form, he could go well at a big price.
As always on this straight course at Ascot, I don’t think the draw is the most important factor, instead it’s where the pace is, so while we are drawn wide in 25, hopefully we will have some company early on.
As I mentioned at the start, this is an absolutely brilliant renewal of this Midsummer highlight. The rain has come this week in Hukum’s favour, as we know he is best when he can get his toe in, but we wouldn’t want much more rain, as heavy ground could ruin the race as a spectacle.
It’s a shame he picked up the injury after last year’s Coronation Cup win, as we just don’t know what he could have achieved last season, particularly as the horse he beat at Epsom, Pyledriver, went on to win last year’s King George.
His comeback run at Sandown this year was top class, as he showed plenty of pace to beat last year’s Derby winner. He’s now won decent races over 1m 6f, 1m 4f and 1m 2f, so he really is a versatile runner, as well as being a classy one, and he’s got winning form at the track.
If they go a hard pace early, he’s got the stamina to live with them; if they go steady, he showed at Sandown he has the pace to quicken.
There is quality all over the place in terms of the opposition. We have this year’s Derby one-two, who get weight from the rest of the field, but I’m not completely convinced by them yet and think they will have to be very good to beat their older rivals, even with the weight advantage.
Pyledriver is the King George ‘champion’ who looked really good when winning on his reappearance at the Royal meeting, while Westover won a Group One in France in a really quick time on his last start.
Emily Upjohn is a two-time Group One winner over this trip and she lost very little in defeat to Paddington in the Coral-Eclipse earlier this month, while I think it’s interesting Ballydoyle are also running Luxembourg as well as Auguste Rodin, and he too can’t be discounted.
All in all, it has the makings of a great horse race, but I would not swap my fellow for anything else in the race, he has an awful lot going for him, and it goes without saying I am really looking forward to this.
Alyanaabi wasn’t by any means a surprise winner on his debut at Salisbury last month, but six furlongs on decent ground wouldn’t necessarily have been his thing, so for him to win as he did was a real positive.
I’ve ridden him in his homework and he’s taken a big step forward from that first run, and as the step up to seven furlongs will suit him, and any give in the ground will also be in his favour, I’m expecting a big run from a young horse I really like.