NEVER mind a game of two halves, it’s been a week of two halves for Jim Crowley.
On Tuesday, he was at rock-bottom after news of his 20-day whip ban filtered through from British Horseracing Authority HQ.
Jim Crowley secured his second Group 1 win of the week at Goodwood
Barely 48 hours later, he was back in the Group 1-winning groove aboard Al Husn after a nip-and-tuck finish to the Nassau Stakes.
It’s a funny old game, and former champion jockey Crowley is well used to the highs and lows.
But, no doubt, he needed a pick-me-up after the brutal suspension that was dished out for his winning ride on Hukum in Saturday’s King George, when he went three strokes over the whip limit of six.
He probably wouldn’t have expected it to come in this race and on this filly, who was a 9-1 shot and not fancied to cause the market leaders much trouble.
Mind you, French jockey Aurelien Lemaitre didn’t need any help finding trouble aboard the red-hot 10-11 favourite Blue Rose Cen.
She was supposedly the best thing since sliced baguette to come from across the Channel, but Lemaitre’s lack of experience around this unforgiving track was brutally exposed.
He made a daring move to try and get up the inside of the front-running Above The Curve around three furlongs out, but there was never enough room to get through and her goose was cooked from that point on.
Blue Rose Cen’s traffic problems left the door wide open to the tough-as-old-boots Al Husn, and she grabbed it with both hands.
Above The Curve kept on dourly to finish a narrow second, while Nashwa failed to back-up her easy Falmouth win with a slightly laboured third.
There was only a neck in it in the scramble for the line, but Crowley was right on the button this time with six strokes of the persuader.
He wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.
Crowley said: “It’s been a turbulent week, but it’s also been brilliant.
“I must admit, pulling up afterwards there was an element of doubt in my mind about how much I’d used the whip.
“It’s not as easy as some people might think and I wasn’t aware how close I was to the limit at Ascot, but it’s done now and I want to move on.
“Al Husn was very tough out there, she isn’t very big but she is an absolute terrier and it’s fantastic we can nick a race like that with her.
“When I saw the French filly had a draw on the rail I knew she would need a bit of luck, it’s the nature of the track that you can get stuck on the inside.
“I could see that she had got herself into a pocket so I kicked at the two-pole and she quickened up well on tiring ground.
“I thought Nashwa was going to come at some point, but when I kicked on she really battled for me.”
While Crowley was busy kicking on, trainer Christopher Head would have been looking for the closest cat to kick.
The top French horses used to be regulars in the UK, but their visits are becoming less and less frequent.
And, after the odds-on jolly Blue Rose Cen was murdered mid-race in classic Goodwood fashion, who could blame him if he thought twice about coming back.
He said: “Aurelien had never ridden at Goodwood before and it is a difficult track.
“You see over the years here that you can have trouble in running and sadly it was the case for us.
“He knows the filly very well and I wanted to keep them together, they are a good team. It is tough to take but we still believe in her.”
Tough to take indeed, just like the ban that will rule jolly Jim out of the money-spinning Ebor Festival later this month.
Mind you, the £1 million in prize-money that he has banked over the last seven days will probably soften the blow.