Mike Cattermole: J-Crow flying
Mike Cattermole is an interested observer in the jockeys' championship while he reflects on a golden run for Qatar Racing.
Jim Crowley: In flying form
J-Crow serves it up to SDS
Jim Crowley has always had that air of professionalism about him. You just know what you are going to get, which is why he is the sort of jockey that a punter can always trust to do his best.
That said, he has taken his riding to another level of late. Jockeys can sometimes go off on one of these "hot streaks" and since last Tuesday, Crowley has ridden 13 winners. That is impressive enough but consider that nearly half of those were gained by incredibly tight margins and you appreciate even more how hard he is to beat right now.
Two of them were by a nose and four of them by short-heads. It is not as if he is just riding just the favourites, either, as only three of them were market leaders.
It's almost as if everything falls into place, the timing, the tactical decisions, the finesse and most of all the confidence which all seem to gel in perfect harmony and feed down the reins to the horse.
I recall a period, many years ago, when I was working as agent to Willie Carson and everything he sat on seemed to win; it was almost supernatural.
The biggest day we had together came on the Northumberland Plate card at Newcastle when he rode a then record six out of seven. (He called me that evening to ask what had happened to the loser!)
The next day, he rode a double at the Curragh, including the Irish Derby on Salsabil, and then moaned like hell when I sent him to Wolverhampton the following day, on a Monday evening. He rode a four-timer there, two of them by short heads.
Agent Tony Hind, a master of his craft, will know that all he has to do is get Crowley on the "live" rides and his man will do the rest.
Sadly, our hot run wasn't enough to get Willie a sixth title as Pat Eddery dug even deeper and just kept on chiselling out the winners.
Similarly, what an impact Crowley's purple patch has had on Silvestre De Sousa whose outstanding four-timer at Epsom sent out exactly the right message to his rival. The defending champion is not going to go down without a real scrap.
Usually nobody tends to get too excited about the jockeys' championship unless there is a proper close tussle going on. Who will forget Steve Cauthen and Eddery going to the ends of the land to ride winners in 1987? Cauthen eventually won it by 197-195. Then, 20 years later, Jamie Spencer and Seb Sanders shared the title on a last day of dramatic action that will surely never be repeated.
In those days, it all ended on November Handicap day at Doncaster of course, but in these more user-friendly times, the championship will be decided as early as October 15 on Champions' Day at Ascot.
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Whether you approve or not of the new parameters, there is no doubt that it has opened up the title to more names and, had it not been for his long suspension meted out by the French stewards, William Buick might have been in the thick of things, too.
Qatar Racing and the gold cap
When it was announced a few weeks ago that Qatar Racing's first colours were changing slightly to a gold cap from a maroon one, I sensed the team was looking for a change of luck, or karma.
Well it has had the desired result!
Up until a few weeks ago, Sheikh Fahad's team was having a pretty unmemorable season. Simple Verse, their first British Classic winner, has struggled to find her A-game this campaign and only Pallasator was ever present in the top races and with little back-up in evidence elsewhere.
Then, in the space of just over a week, the organisation received a timely double boost with wins in the Group Three Solario Stakes at Sandown from South Seas and the Group Two Celebration Mile at Goodwood thanks to Lightning Spear.
South Seas is a very exciting colt who has the looks and athleticism, and is now beginning to show the ability, to go to the top. His next race could be in the At The Races Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on Saturday week and is eagerly awaited.
Lightning Spear gained an overdue first Group win at Goodwood, showing a brilliant turn of foot, and it's more than possible that he could build on this. David Simcock rates him very highly.
All of this must come as a big relief to the Sheikh and his adviser David Redvers who has, meanwhile, managed to complete the 1000km Mongol Derby – some feat.
There are certainly far easier ways to raise money for injured jockeys on both sides of the Irish Sea! If you want to donate, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/QatarRacing.
Currency decision the correct one
Emotions were running high last week after Any Currency was finally disqualified from the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, which he had "won" at the Festival last March.
The veteran chaser was thrown out because the painkiller TCA had been found in his system, long after the 14-day stand-down period had ended.
It was unlucky and a real shame, of course it was. Those that had witnessed the 13-year-old finally nailing the race, in which he had gone close in the past for the Martin Keighley team, knew they had seen something special. And it was a great result for one of the smaller yards.
Co-owner Mark Boothright is passionate about his jumping and his emotions spilled over last week. But the BHA was right to disqualify Any Currency as the rules had indeed been broken. The ruling body also deserved credit for not applying any penalty to Keighley.
What is annoying about all this, however, is the length of time it took to arrive at this point. Well over five months. Why did it have to take so long?
Derby and Arsenal – early thoughts
Nigel Pearson seems to be still feeling his way with Derby County who slumped to defeat at Burton Albion last week.
I didn't see the game but I know plenty who did and it seems as though there is still much to be done. Derby ended last season, their away play-off win at Hull aside, playing with little confidence and Pearson will be working hard to change that.
Meanwhile, not that he would show it, I would imagine that Nigel Clough must have been most satisfied about his side overcoming the club who had sacked him in 2013. Have The Rams made any progress since then? I am not sure they have.
How about Arsenal? Well, Granit Xhaka looks like a tremendous signing to these eyes, based on his display against Watford at least. It's hard to judge on one match, and he will face much tougher tests of course, but he is already looking like a class act.
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