Wednesday 12 December 2018

Hotshot Crosse successfully mixing saddle with studies

 

Many of his weighing room colleagues bowed out at a similar stage but Crosse (p) likes to complete something he started, out of principle if nothing else. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post
Many of his weighing room colleagues bowed out at a similar stage but Crosse (p) likes to complete something he started, out of principle if nothing else. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Only when the text pops back, "perfect, just in school at the moment" does the significance of what Shane Crosse has achieved to become Irish champion Flat apprentice hit home.

His preferred interview time of "after four" should have been a giveaway of his whereabouts until then but it's easy to forget how someone who has been such a central figure on the level this season has just turned 17.

Few at Coláiste Dún Iascaigh in the Tipperary town of Cahir appreciate the enormity of what he achieved nine days ago but there were still plenty of back slaps and handshakes when he arrived in uniform last Monday after being crowned champion.

There would be some texts from school friends on midweek "days off" when he's riding on track - and the odd few looking for a tip - but Crosse just gets on with things, as he plans to do with his studies.

Many of his weighing room colleagues bowed out at a similar stage but Crosse likes to complete something he started, out of principle if nothing else.

There was some coaxing from his dad Matt - a former jumps jockey in Ireland, England and America - and mam Bernadette but most of the motivation came from within.

"It's going all right mixing the studies with the saddle and I'm still able to ride away and still be in school at the same stage and it seems to be working," Crosse says.

"I was missing a lot more the last month or so seeing as I was really pushing it for the championship and school was put to the side but now that it's the winter, I'll be in there four days a week.

"I might be only gone on Friday to Dundalk and I still have 80pc of the year left. I could nearly guarantee you now that I might never use it (Leaving Cert), it's literally just for myself to say that I finished it.

"To go through primary school and the whole way up it would be annoying to throw it away at this stage."

Having only ridden his first winner on April 13 when guiding former Group One winner G Force back into the winners' enclosure for the first time in three and a half years for trainer Adrian Keatley, the last few months have been beyond his wildest dreams as first apprentice to racing royalty in Joseph O'Brien.

"You'd still have a second look when you see your name down beside Joseph's in the card, it nearly feels like it shouldn't be there given the jockey that he was and the trainer he is already," Crosse says.

"He's been unreal from the word go. When I got the chance to go down and ride out for him last year, that was probably the biggest step I ever took and things have kind of snowballed from there, it's been great."

Aspirations to make it as a soccer player - he represented Tipperary for four years as a striker - are out the window and getting his driving licence and relieving his mother of taxiing duties are next on the agenda.

His successful pony circuit days served him well with Pair Of Jacks - bought from Jack Kennedy's father Billy - providing a valuable education which also helped to draw his older brother Nathan into the saddle.

After a rapid rise, Shane has no intention of slowing down and going professional is the future goal.

"I'm just going to keep my head down and ride away as much as I can because the game can be up and down. I'd like to keep my name up there as long as I can," Crosse says.

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