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Jockey Hector Crouch confident Ralph Beckett’s You Got To Me is ‘live’ contender for Epsom Oaks

Ashley-based jockey Hector Crouch has ridden in numerous Classics and Group 1 races down the years, but tomorrow’s Betfred Oaks is set to be the biggest outing of his career.

Not only is his mount – the Ralph Beckett-trained You Got To Me – considered to have a live chance of winning the fillies’ Classic at Epsom, but this is also a ‘homegrown’ tale.

Crouch, who moved to the Newmarket area late last year, has partnered the daughter of Nathaniel on all three of her previous starts – including three weeks ago when she was the impressive winner of the William Hill Oaks Trial Fillies' Stakes at Lingfield.

Ashley-based jockey Hector Crouch. Picture: Mark Westley
Ashley-based jockey Hector Crouch. Picture: Mark Westley

Asked if The Oaks will be his most important assignment to date, the 27-year-old said: “Probably, yes. I’ve been very fortunate to pick up rides in Classics and Group 1 races before, but often they have been spare rides.

“This is a homegrown achievement because I’ve ridden her on every single start, which is very rewarding.

“I have to thank Ralph and the owners for the opportunity and for putting their faith in me.

“There are only five Classics in this country each year and it’s extremely hard to get a ride in one of them. Often they have outside chances when you do get a ride, so to have one with a live chance, that’s a big thing.”

Much of Crouch’s confidence in his three-year-old comes from her recent trial victory.

Crouch, who enjoyed a career-best year in 2023 with 82 triumphs in the saddle, took You Got To Me well into the lead early on at Lingfield and they remained three lengths clear upon straightening for home.

And then when the inevitable late charge came from the chasing cavalry, she dug deep to win by half a length from Aidan O’Brien’s Rubies Are Red.

“I wasn’t surprised that she won at Lingfield, but it was the way that she won that was pleasantly surprising,” added Crouch.

“We’ve always believed in her ability, but she has gone and backed that up.

“They were always going to come back at her at Lingfield, but she knuckled down. She loves competition and she loves running.

“She’s rightly seen as a live contender now – her ability deserves that.

“She’s got one of those attitudes and personalities that means she’s very much in charge.

“There’s no doubt she’s a lovely filly, but also slightly fiery. You wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of her and if she was human she certainly wouldn’t be shy in telling you what she thinks of you.

“And it’s that attitude that will hold her in good stead for Friday.”