JIM CROWLEY proved that his Coral-Eclipse victory on the previously unheralded Ulysses was no fluke by winning the £1m Juddmonte International at York.
Never again will horse or rider be under-estimated. The champion jockey oozed confidence on the four-year-old colt who was providing legendary trainer Sir Michael Stoute with a record sixth win in the 10-furlong showpiece.
Biding his time up the rain-softened Knavesmire, Ulysses sauntered clear of young pretenders Churchill, the dual Guineas winner, and Eclipse runner-up Barney Roy as the older horse asserted in style.
As Crowley, a former jump jockey, told The Yorkshire Post yesterday, Ulysses is a champion that is clearly getting better with age and proved to be a worthy winner.
Ironically, the horseman only gained the ride on the champion after being jocked off Eminent prior to the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown last month. Now he has a career-defining partnership with a horse whose only blip was a brave second to Enable, hot favourite for today’s Yorkshire Oaks, in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. November’s Breeders’ Cup Turf in America is now the long-term objective.
“He seems to like being ridden with confidence,” said an elated Crowley. “He is improving and today is the best feel I have got off him to be honest and he seems to be getting better and better.
“I always had plenty of horse. Today he relaxed so nicely and he just lobbed round. This horse is improving all the time and when the rain came this morning I knew after Ascot it wouldn’t be a problem. I think he is one of those that only does as much as he has to. He is a great ride to pick up and I am grateful to be riding him. These are the races when you are champion you want to be winning.”
Stoute said: “He’s a top horse. It all just went so smoothly and there was never a blip. I think it was his best performance to date. I think it’s time to give him a break and work backwards from the Breeders’ Cup Turf.”