Jim Crowley admitted being crowned champion flat jockey was beyond his wildest dreams.
The Pulborough star picked up the trophy at Ascot’s Champions Day on Saturday - and immediately said he’d relish trying to retain the title next year.
The former National Hunt rider clinched the title once his lead over reigning champion Silvestre de Sousa became unassailable.
Crowley broke the record for the number of winners in a calendar month by securing 46 victories in September.
He had 38 winners in August and is on course for something similar in October.
The 38-year-old was presented with his champion jockey trophy by show-jumping great and Rio 2016 gold medallist Nick Skelton.
His feat is all the more remarkable because he originally started out as a jockey over jumps where he rode around 300 winners. But he felt the injuries and struggle to get to the top in National Hunt racing was too much.
With size and weight in his favour he changed to riding on the flat. He made the switch and has never looked back, riding an increasing number of winners each year.
Crowley, given a guard of honour by his weighing-room colleagues, said: “It feels amazing and it is beyond my wildest dreams. To come from jumping and do this is just madness.
“A lot of people have helped me along the way. It is not just me, it is a team effort. I could not have done it without my agent Tony Hind, and Hugo Palmer has been a massive help as well.
“Big and small trainers have all helped. I’ve spent more time with my driver Guy Stevens this year than my family.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and it is just a dream come true. Every jockey dreams of being a champion at one point in their career and to have done it in a more unorthodox way makes it more special.”
Looking to the future, he added: “I want to try to get on better horses, but it’s a great feeling being champion jockey and I would not rule me out being here for another crack next year.”
Brazilian De Sousa paid tribute to his conqueror, saying: “He has ridden so well this season and deserves all the credit he is getting. I look forward to both shaking his hand and renewing our rivalry again next season.”
Crowley is married to Lucinda, daughter of former trainer Guy Harwood and sister of trainer Amanda Perrett. He and his family live on the Coombelands estate where Perrett trains.
Crowley has three children Alice (nine), Bella, (eight) and Sam (three).
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking sports news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
Share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!