Shane Crosse, the teenage jockey who missed riding a Classic winner after testing positive for the coronavirus last month, was a picture of joy sitting behind his mask here after partnering Pretty Gorgeous to victory in the Fillies’ Mile. It would have meant more to have a St Leger trophy in the house, of course, but this was a first Group One success for the 19-year-old and, even more importantly, the fact he was aboard such a quality animal shows the regard in which he is held by the winning trainer, Joseph O’Brien.
“Unbelievable,” was Crosse’s first reaction. “A lot of jockeys spend their lives trying to get to this stage. I’m lucky to have rode in a few already and to grab one is amazing.”
This was only a third ride in Britain for Crosse, almost exactly two years after the first. Jonjo O’Neill brought him over as a fresh-faced 7lb claimer to see if he could make the difference to a 66-1 shot in the 2018 Cesarewitch. That rank outsider remains Crosse’s only losing ride in this country.
Surely he would also have won on Galileo Chrome in the Leger, but for the bolt from the blue that came when he was told he had Covid-19, despite being free of symptoms. The mount, and the glory, went to Tom Marquand. “It’s been a head-wrecking few weeks for me, and for everyone,” reflected Crosse, who comes from a family of jockeys. “It wasn’t easy to sit at home and watch the Leger from the couch.
“I had to watch it but I didn’t want to. I wouldn’t mind, but he always looked like he was gonna win. So it was tough. But I’m delighted the horse won, and for Tom, he’s a lovely guy. There’s no point in huddling up and crying about it. My dad and all the lads and my brother have taught me how this game goes.”
Crosse can look forward to riding Galileo Chrome on other days, as well as Pretty Gorgeous when she returns for the 1,000 Guineas in May, for which she is favourite at 10-1. The filly showed a tough constitution to score, having been over to Paris last weekend, where she was prevented from running by the feed contamination crisis which now seems to be resolving itself.
A frustrating year for fans of Pinatubo, meanwhile, last year’s megastar juvenile, got worse with news that Godolphin have retired him to stud rather than tackle the Breeders’ Cup Mile, for which he had been 5-2 favourite. No explanation was offered, Godolphin offering only a statement which said the decision followed “a discussion of key horses”.
Undefeated in six races last year and memorably impressive in Ireland’s National Stakes, he was a beaten favourite three times this summer, though he made the best of a straightforward opportunity to land the Prix Jean Prat.