Jim Crowley: Former jump jockey aims for All Weather Championships flat success

Jim Crowley
The All Weather Championship finals takes place on 25 March, and the total prize fund is worth £1.1m

Jump jockey-turned-leading flat rider Jim Crowley admits to missing the adrenalin rush provided by national hunt racing, but not the perilous lifestyle nor, I guess, the rather smaller pay packets.

Whereas once the 37-year-old would have spent the Easter holiday chasing a few hundred pounds at Carlisle or Sedgefield on the northern jumping circuit where he was based, much more lucrative wages are up for grabs at the flat's third All Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield.

The seven-race programme, the climax to the series of flat races staged on the artificial surfaces at Lingfield, Southwell, Wolverhampton, Kempton and Chelmsford between late October and the end of March, is worth £1.1m. Crowley is tipped to take home a significant slice of what is on offer.

His mounts Moonrise Landing, in the £150,000 32Red Marathon, and Mindurownbusiness, in the £150,000 Ladbrokes Mile, are both strong fancies to do the business on the card which introduced racing on Good Fridays - previously one of the sport's few blank days - for the first time in 2014.

As with all of the big-race contenders, the pair have had to earn their places in the Finals by competing three times during the All Weather season or by winning a Fast-Track Qualifier, as the Ralph Beckett-trained Moonrise Landing did at Wolverhampton in December.

Jim Crowley
Jim Crowley, who grew up as a jump racer, switched to the flat 10 years ago

"She absolutely dotted up that day," Crowley told BBC Sport. "I wasn't quite expecting her to win the way she did, beating a very good horse into second.

"She seems to have progressed hugely and I'm really looking forward to her especially from a great draw [in the stalls] in two on the inside.

"A mile is Mindurownbusiness' distance. We tried him over a mile-and-a-quarter and it didn't quite work out that day, but he bounced back at Wolverhampton with a very convincing win. When I asked him to pick up, he put the race to bed very quickly against some well-seasoned horses. He goes to Lingfield with an excellent chance."

It is 10 years since Crowley, born and raised close to Ascot racecourse, switched to flat racing from jumping after riding more than 300 winners, many for Yorkshire-based trainers Sue and Harvey Smith, for whom he worked.

The son-in-law of retired Classic-winning trainer Guy Harwood still keeps an eye on his old colleagues and was among the crowds on day one of the Cheltenham Festival to watch Annie Power assert her authority in the Champion Hurdle, but that is as far as it goes these days.

Crowley's total of more than 30 wins on the artificial tracks this season puts him in the top half-dozen jockeys behind All-Weather champion Luke Morris.

Yet the love of racing over jumps has not left him completely. He said: "I grew up in a point-to-pointing family so jumping was always in my blood, and you can't replace the buzz of riding a nice jumper in flat racing, it's impossible. Do I miss it? Sometimes, but probably not the way of life.

Jim Crowley
Jim Crowley, pictured here at Ascot, was born and raised nearby the course in Berkshire

"I started getting injured quite a lot towards the end, and I kept breaking my collar - everything time I landed it seemed it would break - so I made the switch, and I've never really looked back."

Lingfield was scheduled to share the Good Friday limelight with the start of the new season of flat racing on turf, 450 miles north at Musselburgh.

The effects of the wet winter on the Scottish track put paid to that, however, so the campaign gets under starters' orders at Redcar three days later.

Crowley will be riding as a freelance during the weeks and months ahead, from Royal Ascot to Glorious Goodwood, and all points in between, and will be looking to improve on his record of at least a century of winners in seven of the last nine years.

A man for the All Weather, and indeed all seasons.

BBC 5 Live Sports Extra will feature the All Championships Finals on 25 March from 2pm.