Between 1997/98 and 2005/06 Jim Crowley rode predominantly as a National Hunt jockey, mainly for Grand National-winning trainer Sue Smith, but also for Alan Swinbank, Martin Todhunter and many others, and partnered hundreds of winners in that sphere. However, in his younger days, Crowley had ridden, as an amateur, on the Flat and, in 2006, made the bold, and slightly unusual, step of switching codes for a second time.
Having slimmed his, thankfully, relatively slight frame down to 8st 7lb, or thereabouts – according to the Racing Post, his lowest riding weight in the last 12 months has been 8st 8lb – Crowley initially worked for his sister-in-law, Amanda Perrett, who had taken over from her father, Guy Harwood, at Coombelands Racing Stables in Pulborough, West Sussex a decade previously. He rode a hundred winners, and earned over £1 million in prize money, in a season for the first time in 2008 and, two years later, become stable jockey to Ralph Beckett at Kimpton Down Stables, near Andover in Hampshire.
Six years later, in 2016, Crowley achieved the highest seasonal aggregate of his career, 189 winners, and, at the age of 38, became Champion Jockey for the first time. In so doing, he not only beat the reigning champion, Silvestre De Sousa – who won the jockeys’ title again in 2017 and 2018 – into second place, but also set a new record for most winners ridden in a calendar month, 46, in September that year.
Ironically, his biggest win of 2016, in pecuniary terms, came on Moonrise Landing in the All-Weather Marathon Championships at Lingfield on March 25 or, in other words, before the period over which the jockeys’ title was decided had begun. Regardless of the shortening of that period, from 32 weeks to 24 weeks, approximately, in 2015, the aforementioned race took place a week before the Lincoln Handicap, so never would have counted towards the jockeys’ championship in any case. Within the championship period, though, his two biggest wins – Arab Spring, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, in the September Stakes at Kempton, and Algometer, trained by David Simcock – both came in that highly productive month of September.