With odds of 66/1 available for Jim Crowley to become champion jockey at the start of the Flat season, few could have predicted the outcome.
Yet 759 rides and 148 winners later, the Ascot-born rider achieved a lifetime achievement by claiming the Stobart Flat jockeys’ championship.
In doing so he joins a roll of honour which features some true greats such as Lester Piggott, Pat Eddery and Kieren Fallon.
Crowley was treated to a guard of honour by his weighing room colleagues before being presented with his trophy by show jumping great and Rio Olympic gold medallist Nick Skelton, prior to racing on British Champions Day at Ascot.
The 38-year-old started out as an amateur on the Flat but then decided to pursue a career over jumps, and went on to secure more than 300 winners over an eight-year period.
Since making the switch back to the Flat a decade ago, Crowley has regularly surpassed the century mark of winners each year.
Not only that he has made his mark at the top level, with his first Group 1 win coming for the sprint king Robert Cowell on Prohibit in the 2011 King’s Stand Stakes.
His blooming association with Newmarket-based trainer Ralph Beckett saw him partner runner-ups in two Classics with Qatar Racing’s Secret Gesture in the Oaks and Talent in the St Leger.
After making a cracking start this year, he joined battle with last year’s champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa in the latter half of the season, the two going nip-and-tuck.
However come September, Crowley hit a purple patch of form and by the end of the month he had broken the record for number of Flat winners in a month with 46 victories, all but sealing the title.
“It’s not been easy but my family have been very supportive,” reflected Crowley.
“My wife looked at me a couple of weeks ago and said you’ve come this far you better not finish second. It’s been tough going but I’ve loved every minute of it.”
It’s been tough going but I’ve loved every minute of it
Crowley employed a new agent this year in the shape of Tony Hind. One of the most respected agents in the business, Hind has now steered seven out of the last 11 riders to victory in the jockeys’ championship.
Crowley added: “It’s been unbelievable, so much hard work has gone into it. My agent Tony Hind has just worked tirelessly and it’s a team effort really.
“My driver Guy Stevens has driven me around the country and everywhere and I owe plenty to him.”