Champion Crowley admits retaining his crown is a longshot
Reigning champion jockey Jim Crowley did not quite go as far as to completely rule out a successful defence of his title this season, but he has suggested his new job and mindset would make clawing back Silvestre de Sousa's 29-winner lead nigh on impossible.
Crowley, who was the surprise winner of the Stobart Flat Jockeys’ Championship last year having been available to back at 50-1 at the start of the season, currently sits in joint-fourth place with William Buick, just two winners behind the jockeys in joint-second Danny Tudhope and Ryan Moore, but the 2015 runaway winner De Sousa is in similar form this campaign with more than half again the total of his nearest pursuer.
De Sousa is the 1-10 favourite to regain the title but Crowley is viewed by bookmakers as his biggest threat at 10-1, with it 16-1 bar the pair. However, Crowley is not prioritising a title defence.
STOBART FLAT JOCKEYS' CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Silvestre de Sousa 76 wins (best odds available: 1-10)
Danny Tudhope 47 wins (66-1)
Ryan Moore 47 wins (16-1)
William Buick 45 wins (25-1)
Jim Crowley 45 wins (10-1)
"My motives are slightly different this season with the job for Sheikh Hamdan – I'm trying to concentrate on quality not quantity," said Crowley, who was speaking at a media event to promote next month's Glorious Goodwood.
"It took a lot out of me last year, the work that goes into it is mammouth," added the recent Coral-Eclipse-winning jockey. "I'm not saying I wouldn't like to do it again, but my perspective is a little different."
He added: "If you're riding good horses for your boss on a Saturday you don't necessarily want to be in the 9.10 at Wolverhampton, picking up a ban on someone else's horse as that could really upset the apple cart, so you have to be sensible about the job.
"If I was in with a chance after Goodwood then, sure, we'd think about it, but I'm thoroughly enjoying things as they are. This is what last year was all about, putting me in the position to get a job like riding for Sheikh Hamdan, to get on horses like Ulysses. Winning the championship was a massive tick in the box, it was something I wanted to do and I was lucky enough to do it last year.
"I moved to [agent] Tony Hind with that as the plan, but it was going to be this year. It happened a year sooner than I expected so it wasn't until after Goodwood that we looked and realised we were in with a chance. From there it was just pedal to the metal every day.
"This year it's different and I'm very fortunate I'm picking up better rides in better races. I have three young children and spend my winters in Dubai now so it's about trying to find the right balance."