Doyle secures first Classic success on Nashwa

Nashwa provided Hollie Doyle with her first Classic success after a thrilling victory in the Prix de Diane at Chantilly.

So impressive in winning her first two starts of the season at Haydock and Newbury, the Frankel filly was last seen finishing a creditable third in the Oaks at Epsom.

Turning out just 16 days later for the French equivalent, John and Thady Gosden’s youngster was the 7-4 favourite under her record-breaking rider and got the job done in determined style.

A smart start from her low draw meant Nashwa was prominent from the off and she travelled smoothly into the home straight alongside the well fancied Agave.

After seeing her off, 50-1 shot La Parisienne powered home to throw down a late challenge, but Nashwa and Doyle knuckled down admirably to pass the post narrowly in front.

“It feels pretty good. When I was pulling up I couldn’t find the words to describe it really,” said the jockey.

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“I’ve got a lot of people to thank. Without Imad Al Sagar (owner) I don’t know if I would ever have been in the position to get an opportunity like this. These types of horses are hard to come upon and I’m only 25, so it’s relatively early on in my career and I feel pretty lucky.

“I felt very vulnerable at the two-furlong pole, I’m not going to lie. It was a muddling race and I felt beforehand someone would be a bit more decisive pace-wise than they were. I didn’t really want to be where I was, but she was very relaxed and happy to be one off the rail with a bit of company either side.

“She’s versatile and responsive when needs be. When the second horse came to my girths she really dug deep, which was great to see.”

The rider was congratulated shortly after her victory by her husband Tom Marquand, who finished seventh aboard Zellie.

Doyle added: “I think he was just as happy as I was. We’re always pretty happy for each other, so I think he was delighted.

“I was pretty confident off the back at Epsom. We felt coming back in trip was what she needs and it’s proven to be the answer. She retains a lot of class and I think she could be even better next year.

“If you’d said to me three years ago that I would be riding in a Classic for Mr Gosden I’d have laughed. To be in this position is incredible and when you ride at this level, the trainer has done all they can and the owner has put you in position, it’s down to me on the day.

“I just expect a lot from myself and I don’t want to let people down. You have to prepare yourself to be at your best when given the opportunity and that’s what I try and do.”

John Gosden was full of praise for Doyle, saying: “The owner-breeder Imad Al Sagar said to me two or three years ago that he had two or three jockeys he was looking at and wanted to retain a jockey. He showed me the list and I said ‘Hollie Doyle’, and I know other people would back me on that.

“She’s hugely talented and horses run for her. She’s incredibly meticulous and hard-working and she analyses things properly.

“The race didn’t work out how we thought, but we did have the Plan B to stay forward if that occurred and she’s shown herself as a class rider and the filly is a class filly who was beautifully ridden.

“I am proud and Thady is extremely proud because it’s the youth team teaming up again. It’s quite obvious that I’ll be surplus to requirements quite soon with the youthful Thady and Hollie!”

Nashwa and Hollie Doyle in action at Newbury
Nashwa and Hollie Doyle in action at Newbury (David Davies/PA)

Nashwa looks set for a mid-season break before being prepared for a return to France in the autumn.

“I think she’ll have a freshen up. She’s run in two Oaks, which is tough, but she seemed remarkably calm after the race and was having a very natural, normal blow,” Gosden added.

“One race that stands out is the Prix de l’Opera and I think if we make that our big target and come back from there, that would be the way to play it.

“I think she definitely deserves a freshen up and a summer holiday now.”

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