Crowley and Lee close Flat season on 99 winners

Jim Crowley - 99 winners

Jim Crowley - 99 winners

The flat season is over, and the championships are all decided. Hughes and Hannon have taken the jockeys’ and trainers’ titles, and Jason Hart was ten winners clear in the apprentice jockeys’ race. Graham Lee and Jim Crowley probably had a bit of friendly rivalry to see which of the pair of former jump jockeys would make 100 winners first.

Both started the final day at Doncaster on Saturday on 98 winners with hopes of a double to reach the century. Crowley rode Jazz for Charlie Hills in the first race, and came home in front. Although he had five more rides, all but one were outsiders, and he could only add a third place to his tally. Out for 99.

Lee also got himself on the score sheet, on Jim Goldie’s Jack Dexter. This was in race five, and with his ride in the next race a non-runner, he had only one more opportunity to reach three figures. Sadly, he didn’t manage it. If Border Legend had won, Lee would have become the first jockey to ride 100 winners in a season over the jumps and on the flat, and I’d have pocketed a nice bet too. Maybe next year.

Graham Lee - 99 winners

Graham Lee - 99 winners

Neither jockey was disheartened at missing out on 100. Lee said, “It would have been nice to have got to 100 but I’m not frustrated about it. If I had set it as a target at the start of the season and I’d got to 99, then I would have failed, but my target was to ride as many winners as possible. It just turned out I ended up on 99.”

He’s right to be pleased; it’s only his second season on the flat. In the week in which Tony McCoy reached 4,000 winners over the jumps, was Lee tempted to try his had again for the two winners that would take him to 1,000 National Hunt successes? Not a bit of it.

Crowley notched a century last year, and had set out to match that in 2013, so was a little disappointed. But, he said, “I was ill in July and so missed about ten days. In the circumstances I’m very happy to get 99. It was a good year.”

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