How jockey Jim Crowley made £35k in just 90 seconds!

When champion jockey Jim Crowley jumps on the back of a racehorse, he can earn up to £35,000 in just 90 seconds. But for 39-year-old Crowley, who won the Flat Jockeys Championship last year, getting paid £389 per second is just ‘part of the job’.

What motivates him is his love of horse racing and the prestige of winning, not the millions of pounds in prize money that is up for grabs.

He avoids investing in the stock market, preferring instead to improve his family home.

Flat out: Jim switched away from steeplechase to flat racing ten years ago

Flat out: Jim switched away from steeplechase to flat racing ten years ago

His three lucky children, he says, are currently collecting ponies and he has built them paddocks and a swimming pool in the land surrounding his five-bedroom country home.

He and wife Lucinda, 37, live in West Sussex with son Sam, four, and daughters Bella, seven, and ten-year-old Alice.

What did your parents teach you about money?

To be careful with it. My parents did not have much money so they tried to teach me to look after it. Even when I was young, I was always a bit of a saver. My parents owned horse livery yards and trained horses for point-to-point, which is a type of amateur racing over fences. That was not well-paid. We could not afford holidays and luxuries. Whatever money was spare went on my riding. I could not afford a pony of my own – I used to have to borrow other people’s.

What was the first paid work you ever did?

When I was 12, I started breaking ponies in. That is how I earned my pocket money, along with two gruelling half-hour paper rounds before school.

Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?

Yes. I left school at 16, moved out of my parents’ house and got a job as a stablehand for a local racehorse trainer. I enjoyed it, but it was hard work, riding four or five racehorses every morning and mucking out the stables.

I would start at 6am, finish at 1pm, then go back between 4pm and 6pm to groom the horses. My pay packet was £120 a week.

While I was doing that, I worked as an amateur jockey, which meant I took part in races across the country but I did not get paid to ride.

It was a good experience, but I had to use the money I earned as a stablehand to pay my travel costs. I was so hard-up I once had to borrow £20 for petrol to get home from a racetrack.

Have you ever been paid silly money for a job?

Yes. Three years ago, I won a Champion’s Day race that lasted about 90 seconds. My jockey’s commission for the prize I won was £35,000 – that is the most I’ve ever earned per minute.

Of course, it is wonderful to earn that much money, but you do this job because you love the sport. Winning £35,000 was obviously nice, but it did not make a huge difference to me.

It might sound blasé, but it is just a part of my job. It is the prestige of winning the race I care about, rather than the money.

What was the best year of your life, in terms of the money you made?

Last year. It has been widely reported that my winnings amassed more than £1.9 million in prize money.

I do not want to say how much my share of that prize money was, but I rode 187 winners and was paid to do more than 1,000 rides.

Flat jockeys typically get 7 per cent of the prize money for a win and around 5 per cent for a place, plus you earn £120 per ride.

It has been widely reported that Jim's winnings amassed more than £1.9 million in prize money

It has been widely reported that Jim’s winnings amassed more than £1.9 million in prize money

Jim says his parents did not have much money so they tried to teach him to look after it

What is the most expensive thing you have ever bought just for fun?

An Audi A8 I bought for £40,000 two years ago. It is important to me to have a comfortable car, because as a jockey, I live on the road.

I usually have to drive between 40,000 and 60,000 miles a year. But I hate driving. I would much rather be riding a horse.

What is the biggest money mistake you have ever made?

Taking the wrong course in a jump race in Italy. The jumps are not numbered over there, which makes it confusing for British jockeys.

I won the race, but was disqualified. The prize was £200,000 and I would have got £20,000 as my cut. That was quite a boob. To this day, I cannot even take comfort in the fact that I won the race. That just makes it worse.

What is the best money decision you have made?

Switching from being a steeplechase jockey, riding over jumps, to flat racing on a level racecourse, ten years ago.

That had not been done before and many jockeys think it does not make sense to do it because steeplechase jockeys get paid £150 a ride, so £30 more than flat jockeys. But there are a lot more races for flat jockeys and the chance of injury is lower.

I realised I could increase the amount of rides I was doing from 400 to 1,000 a year, which would increase my earnings overall.

By running in more races, I would also have a greater chance of winning more prize money. I had to lower my weight though.
Jim seen riding his horse Mukalal (left in blue) on Ascot racecourse this month

Do you save into a pension or invest in the stock market?

Fortunately, the Professional Jockeys Association has set up a pension scheme for all jockeys, which is funded by a deduction of 0.6 per cent of racing’s overall prize money pool.

It means every time I ride in a race, I effectively earn a contribution to my pension.

I do not invest in the stock market. I do not know enough about it so I steer clear.

Instead, whenever I have spare cash, I usually invest in my own property – either my stables or my home, by doing home improvements.

Do you own any property?

Yes, my home in Sussex. My wife and I converted it from an old stone barn into a five-bedroom family home ourselves.

As a result, we have increased its value since we bought it ten years ago.

It has land around it so we have added a swimming pool and paddocks. All three children collect ponies. It is fantastic I can provide that for them.

I am aware that they are lucky compared with what I had when I was young and I try to tell them that.

What is the one little luxury you like to treat yourself to?

Every now and again, a meal at a Thai restaurant. Obviously as a jockey I have to watch my weight. Most of the time I eat really healthily – fruit, vegetables and fish are the main basis of my diet – and I do a lot of exercise.

I run three or four miles a day and ride in anything between six and ten races a day. So I do enjoy it when I go out for a meal – and Thai is my favourite.

What is your number one financial priority?

To be so financially secure that when I finish racing, I can make sure my kids grow up happy and healthy. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *