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Muntazah ridden by jockey Jim Crowley Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Jim Crowley is looking forward to an even better 2021 after playing a major role in helping his chief employer His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, secure a seventh British Owners’ Championship honour during a pandemic-stricken 2020.

COVID-19 affected racing drastically in 2020, with shorter programmes and a drop in prize money the norm worldwide. However, Crowley could not have asked for a better year and admitted everything went right with Sheikh Hamdan claiming his first Owners’ Championship since 2014 and winning the Champion Owner title at Royal Ascot as well.

And Crowley, who was recruited by Sheikh Hamdan as a retained rider after his first British Jockeys’ Championship success in 2016, can’t wait to deliver more glory for his world famous blue and white silks.

“We had an amazing season and, obviously, it was one of those years when everything went right,” said Crowley, who performed at a strike rate of 17 per cent and scored 80 times in 474 rides to finish eighth in the 2020 British Jockeys’ Championship.

“It was just a shame that under the circumstances Sheikh Hamdan couldn’t be there to watch because I know he would have got huge pleasure from watching those horses win. It was just a fantastic season.

“I think 2020 made everybody appreciate what we had; things that came for granted like the crowds and the prize money, which has seen a big drop all over the world.

“I am looking forward to getting back to some sort of normality with people being able to go back racing. I had a fantastic year in terms of winners and was very successful and I can only hope we have a really good 2021.”

The 2020 Dubai World Cup and its undercard were cancelled on account of the pandemic, but Crowley’s “amazing season” began prior lockdown with victory in the Group 2 Meydan Sprint on Waady trained by Doug Watson.

Five top tier successes followed with Charles Hills’ speed ace Battaash helping himself to victories in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes at York, Nazeef, trained by John Gosden, winning Newmarket’s Tattersalls Falmouth and Sun Chariot Stakes in July and October respectively and Marcus Tregoning’s Mohaather’s success in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. Crowley rode a further seven wins at Group Two level and had another five Group Three victories.

Speaking of the highlights, the 43yo rider said: “I was very fortunate. “We had a wonderful Royal Ascot with six winners. Battaash was brilliant throughout the season and just got better and better as it went forward.

“Mohaather winning the Sussex Stakes was a big day for the team as well and also Nazeef winning two Group One races was really good. She is an exceptional filly. So it’s just fantastic with the team because there’s some nice strength and depth in the ranks with younger horses: the 2yos and 3yos, and then the older horses.

“It’s a real honour to be riding for Shadwell and a real pleasure. It’s a job I enjoy very much and we will be looking forward to another good year in 2021.”