Jim Crowley grew up just a few furlongs from Ascot racecourse and has eventually made his name as a top Flat jockey with many major successes, though it wasn't straightforward getting there.
Having started out as a would-be jumps jockey, Crowley switched codes and really made his name as a rider on the Flat, with stars like Battaash and Baaeed synonymous with the former champion rider.
Watch every race across the five days at Royal Ascot from Tuesday 20th June – Saturday 24th June via the bet365 service.
|What||Royal Ascot 2023|
|Where||Royal Ascot, Ascot Racecourse|
|When||Tuesday 20th June – Saturday 24th June|
|How to watch||bet365 Sports Live Streaming, ITV, Sky Sports Racing|
Jim's parents trained point-to-pointers and his childhood was dominated by horses as he competed in show jumping before turning his hand to racing.
After initially starting out as an amateur on the Flat, he caught the eye of Harvey Smith, a former champion showjumper, and that led 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.
He rode something in the region of 300 winners over jumps but his career would not truly take off until he switched codes.
He initially began working for sister-in-law, Amanda Perrett, at Pulborough, and the winners soon started to flow.
So much so that by 2010 he was offered the job as stable jockey to Ralph Beckett.
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 – it would not be the last time he had an alliance with a star sprinter.
He soon became one of the best in the weighing room and Crowley was routinely racking up centuries season after season before he won the jockeys' championship in 2016.
Off the back of that crown, powerful owner Sheikh Hamdan came calling and Crowley became the retained rider for the Shadwell-owned team of horses based at many of the top yards in Britain and Ireland.
Now riding mostly for Shadwell, with some outside mounts when the chance came, Crowley was to become known as the pilot on the speedball Battaash, one of the most exciting sprinters of the 21st century.
They enjoyed Group 1 victories in the Prix de l'Abbaye, King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Nunthorpe at York, while Battaash made Glorious Goodwood his very own with four successive victories in the King George Stakes at the famous Sussex venue, where he holds the track record over the flying five-furlongs.
Crowley added Eclipse and the Juddmonte International aboard Ulysses for Sir Michael Stoute, as well as a surprise win in the Sussex Stakes with Here Comes When for Andrew Balding, victories that helped prove he was by no means tied to the blue and white silks of Shadwell.
Now firmly established in the premier league of Flat jockeys, Crowley was to land on the 'horse of a lifetime' in the summer of 2021.
Baaeed won his first two starts for William Haggas and the late Sheikh Hamdan at Leicester and Newmarket before Crowley sat on board for the first time at Headquarters in the Listed Sir Henry Cecil Stakes in July.
This was a special colt and his six-race winning season culminated with Group 1 successes at Longchamp in the Prix Moulin and at Ascot in the QEII where the 3YO got the better of Europe's top miler Palace Pier in a thriller.
Baaeed returned in 2022 and won the Lockinge at Newbury, the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and then York's Juddmonte International on his first run beyond a mile.
Haggas opted against a crack at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe amid fears of soft ground in Paris but, ultimately, Baaeed's only defeat would come on his final start in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot as he failed to match Frankel in signing off unbeaten with a win in that same race.
Crowley will now have his eyes very much fixed on adding more Royal Ascot winners to his tally this summer, while after guiding Hukum to victory in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown earlier this season, he will also have aspirations of going for Arc glory with the shot later in the year.