Jim Crowley’s superb Royal Ascot week continued on Thursday with a double taking his tally to six winners.
After a day one treble and another winner courtesy of Hukum on Wednesday, the former champion Flat jockey picked up where he left off as Molatham made a winning return to action in the Group Three Jersey Stakes.
The son of Night Of Thunder edged out Monarch Of Egypt by half a length – the pair well clear – in a gripping battle to the line.
It was a fifth winner of the week for Crowley, while trainer Roger Varian was doubling on the day following Mountain Angel’s success in the Wolferton.
The winner returned 11/2 with Aidan O’Brien’s gallant runner-up 4/1 in the hands of Ryan Moore, while third went to 40/1 outsider Symbolize ahead of Ropey Guest in fourth at 33/1. The well-backed French raider Celestin was fifth.
Varian said: “His only run on soft ground prior to this was in the Autumn Stakes at Newmarket, but perhaps that was just too much of a test at that time in his development and maybe it wasn’t the ground.
“We did have genuine concerns about the ground, but he coped fine and I’m delighted with his performance. He’s got a great attitude and to see him fight back shows he’s a fighter as well.
“To win over seven on that ground he looks like he’ll stay a mile, but he travelled through the race and Jim thought he was there too soon. We’ve got plenty of options going forward and don’t forget the Prix Jean Prat is over seven furlongs this year.
“I’m not going to commit to where we’ll go just yet, I wouldn’t rule anything out, we’ll see how he is and talk to Sheikh Hamdan.
“This is a hard place to get winners so we’re delighted with how the week is going.”
Crowley, who had recorded just five Royal Ascot winners in his career before 2020, said: “We were unsure of the ground because he had one run on it last year and didn’t go on it, but he stuck it out well because we got headed and he came back.
“When you look at his pedigree and the way he moves you’d think he’d actually be at home on soft ground, so maybe it was just the track at Newmarket he didn’t like – the undulations.”
He added: “I probably got there too soon, you wouldn’t want to be in front two furlongs out on him. He’s a lovely horse, he only does as much as he has to, even there I still think he had something up his sleeve.
“To get one winner here is great so to have a week like this is way beyond expectations.”
Crowley’s week got even sweeter and Varian completed a superb day-three treble as Khaloosy (9/2) scooted home to win the Britannia Stakes despite drifting across the track in the final furlong.
The grey could be spotted travelling smoothly throughout and was initially produced towards the near side by the red-hot rider, but he veered over towards the challenging 11/4 favourite Finest Sound in the final furlong.
However, Khaloosy still had plenty in hand and powered home on straightening up to win by four and a half lengths. Third went to Cherokee Trail who was a further four lengths back.
arian said: “I think I’m going to pinch myself in a minute and I’ll wake up.
“We’ve always liked him, but he’s not flashy at home. I have to credit John Lowe (ex-jockey) who rides him every morning. He’s been happy with his work. He had a little setback a month ago which prevented a prep race, but it was maybe a blessing in disguise.
“He came here in good form, we were a little worried about the ground but he’s won well.
“If you saw his win at Wolverhampton he won that in good style and went into the winter as one we were looking forward to, but it’s been such a funny start to the season we haven’t been able to judge any of them easily.
“He won in the style of a horse with a big future. He’s got a great pedigree that goes back to Nathaniel and Great Heavens so he’s got the blood to be a good horse. I think that will be it for handicaps.”
He added: “This is right up there (as one of the best days) as this is the hardest place to get winners so to get three in a day and four in a week is great.
“We’ve still got some nice horses to run, but we might have used up all our luck. At least we know they are healthy and in good form.”
Crowley said: “He won really well. It was a good training performance to win first time up. He loved the ground, I got a great tow into the race and he took me there easy. He put it to bed quickly, I was concerned he might get tired but he kept going well.
“I knew I had a good book of rides, but this is such a hard place to ride winners you have to make the most of it.”