Hitting his rivals for six at Royal Ascot in one of the best jobs in racing, Jim Crowley has a burning ambition before he retires – to win a British Classic.
Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s go-to rider has come close at Epsom before, with Secret Gesture’s second in the 2013 Investec Oaks.
One of the favourites pre-race, Crowley hit the front on the filly two furlongs from home, but she was all at sea on the track as 20/1 stablemate Talent swept by.
Fourth in the 2017 Derby on Eminent, Crowley knows just how lucky you have to be to triumph, noting the 15-year wait for a certain colleague.
“Look how long it took Frankie (Dettori),” said the 41-year-old.
“The Derby is the most important race to win. You can’t do that if you are sat in the weighing room.
“There are no rules – we have seen horses win from last, such as Pour Moi and others have made the running.
“Epsom is a very unique test for a thoroughbred.”
Crowley rides Emissary in Saturday’s Investec Derby, a half-brother to 2010 winner Workforce.
He went to Hugo Palmer’s Newmarket stable this week to get to know his big race mount.
And one thing’s for sure, he will try to savour the experience in 2020, despite the meeting being run without spectators.
“I didn’t enjoy either day to be honest (Secret Gesture and Eminent’s runs),” he said.
“I thought Secret Gesture would win and she finished second to her stablemate.
“Eminent wasn’t beaten that far. We got squeezed out a furlong from home. It was a tough race for him.
“I think Emissary is a great ride to pick up.
“He’s only had two starts in his life and he will improve a lot for his run at Goodwood.
“His half-brother Workforce won the Derby and I don’t think his team would be run if they didn’t think he was up to this level.”
Win, lose or dead-heat at Epsom, Crowley will still have his six Royal Ascot successes to savour.
Born in the hospital a stone’s throw away from the racecourse, it is a place he holds dear- and Battaash finally winning the King’s Stand Stakes is a memory that tops the lot.
“I was buzzing to get three winners on the first day, it set me up for the rest of the week,” Crowley said.
“I have been to Ascot many times hoping for winners and you can leave there licking your wounds.
“For Battaash it was important for him to win after finishing second twice.
“He is so fast it’s unbelievable. It’s like driving a very nice car, it’s as simple as that.
“I rode him work the week before Royal Ascot and was grinning from ear to ear.
“He’s not a normal horse, he’s a freak.”
When Battaash tries to add a fourth King George Stakes to his record at Goodwood, Crowley will be closing in on 2,000 career winners.
As well as his immediate ambitions, he remains quietly keen on adding another jockeys’ title to his 2016 heroics.
“If I get to Goodwood and I’m reasonably close, I might give it another go,” he said.
“2000 winners would be a nice milestone to reach.
“But I really want to win a Classic, that’s got to be number one.
“The Oaks or the Derby, there’s nothing like it. It would be a great thrill.
“Even if there is no-one there, I will take it.”