Jim Crowley – A Remarkable Rise To The Top

Features | 2nd October 2022

Jim Crowley’s career has been quite a remarkable journey. As he prepares for one final ride on Baaeed in next month’s Qipco Champion Stakes, he can look back at the path to partnering possibly the world’s best racehorse.

Jim Crowley’s career is one that has certainly contained plenty of twists and turns. The 44-year-old jockey has already won six Group 1 races on Baaeed, but things could have been very different for the former Jump Jockey.

This season, wearing the colours of his late boss Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, he has steered the unbeaten four-year-old son of Sea The Stars to victories in the Lockinge Stakes, Queen Anne Stakes, Sussex Stakes and the Juddmonte International.

The pair will return to Ascot for Qipco British Champions Day on Saturday 15 October, 12 months after they landed the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

It would be a fitting way for Baaeed, trained by William Haggas, to bow out. He is generally regarded as the best British horse since Frankel, who headed off into retirement after winning the Qipco Champion Stakes 10 years ago.

It would also be a home victory for his jockey. Jim grew up just a few furlongs from Ascot Racecourse.

His parents trained point-to-pointers and his childhood was dominated by horses. He hunted and competed in show jumping before racing took over.

After working for John White and Ron Hodges, he started to make an impression as an amateur jockey on the Flat. It was then that Jim was spotted by former champion showjumper Harvey Smith. It lead to a move north to become a jump jockey at the stables Smith runs with his wife Sue on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

His career over obstacles was steady if not spectacular. In nine seasons he rode just over 250 winners with his biggest victory coming on Crossbow Creek in the 2005 Lanzarote Hurdle.

The following year Jim, encouraged by his father-in-law, Guy Harwood, waved goodbye to the jumps to concentrate on a career as a Flat jockey.


As decisions go, it hasn’t turned out too badly. Primarily riding for his wife Lucinda’s sister Amanda Perrett, he was soon rattling up the winners like never before.

He became Ralph Beckett’s stable jockey in 2010 and he rode his first British Group 1 winner the following year when Prohibit, trained by Robert Cowell, won the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Jim was passing the century mark most seasons and, in 2016, he became Champion Jockey. It was on the back of his first jockeys’ championship crown that powerful owner Sheikh Hamdan came calling.

The move to concentrate on quality over quantity led Jim to riding one of the quickest horses to ever grace the sport.

Partnering lightning-fast Battaash to Group 1 victories in the Prix de l’Abbaye, King’s Stand Stakes and the Nunthorpe was some contrast to riding staying chasers around Catterick and Carlisle.

Eclipse and Juddmonte International winner Ulysses and surprise Sussex stakes hero Here Comes When added further top-level victories to Jim’s CV. This year, as well as Baaeed, Hukum and Minzaal have kept the big-race ball rolling.

He is now firmly established in the premier league of Flat jockeys. There are no shortage of top-class horses for him to ride with Sheikh Hamdan’s legacy continuingunder the Shadwell banner but every rider dreams of finding a true racing great.

In Baaeed, Jim has found his. Rarely will QIPCO British Champions Day have lived up to its name quite like it will this year if the pair of them bow out with victory in the glittering end-of-season festival’s main event.