Hollie Doyle strikes in Riyadh on True Self

Hollie Doyle broke American hearts when bringing Willie Mullins’ True Self with a tremendous late run to take the Neom Turf Cup in Riyadh.

Britain’s record-breaking female jockey produced True Self to collar long-time leader Channel Maker close home and lift the £437,956 first prize.

Bill Mott’s Channel Maker, a close third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, looked like he had the race in the bag when he slipped the field at the top of straight after soaring past For The Top.

However, jockey Joel Rosario had not accounted for True Self’s abundant stamina – and the eight-year-old started to reduce the gap.

With Doyle in full drive, True Self pulled away from Channel Maker to score by a length and a quarter. The pair were four and three-quarter lengths clear of Emirates Knight in third.

The well-fancied Tilsit, trained by Charlie Hills, had a good early position but was beaten a long way from home.

Doyle enjoyed a sensational 2020 – and again looks like carrying all before her.

She said: “It was an incredible year (last year) and it’s great to get this year off winning a valuable race such as this.

“To be fair, I thought she was my best winning chance of the day. I watched all her performances and I thought she was well up to winning this. The step back in trip was an incredibly clever move by Mr Mullins. She’s a strong traveller usually over further trips, and that helped her today.

Hollie Doyle at the presentation ceremony
Hollie Doyle at the presentation ceremony (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Neville Hopwood)

“They went an even, generous gallop all the way round. We got racing quite soon so the race fell apart quite early, but luckily I managed to latch on to the back of Ryan Moore (on Tilsit) and I got the splits up the straight.”

Doyle admitted riding in the jockeys’ challenge at the track on Friday, even though she had no luck, was a big help to her.

She said: “It made a huge difference. It was great walking into a day as important as this having the experience I gained yesterday.”

A proud Mullins looked on from his County Carlow base, and was full of praise for both Doyle and his winning mare.

He said: “I’d like to congratulate Hollie on a fantastic ride.

“She’s way more speed than we thought when we bought her – as a bumper mare, to go hurdling with.

“She just has a huge amount of speed. All the jockeys who have ridden her have said to me that a mile and a quarter suits her.

“I was happy enough with where Hollie had positioned herself – and I imagine, without having talked to Hollie (yet), that she was probably going as fast as she could over the first half of the race.

True Self collars Channel Maker
True Self collars Channel Maker (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/Neville Hopwood)

“Then, when the pace was injected as the American horse went up on the outside, I thought ‘that’s great, because they’ll be coming back at the end’.

“Sure enough – that’s what happened. Hollie just kept her head, kept the position we’d discussed – if we’d anything left in the tank we’d just wait and wait as long as she could.

“It looked like our mare just stayed on and on, while the one in front was just tying up.”

He added: “We’ve had gale force winds here (in Ireland) and an inch of rain this morning, and I thought ‘it’ll be lovely over there’. But then I saw at the start you had lots of rain as well. So I thought ‘that suits the mare – she’ll feel more at home with that’.”

Looking to future targets for True Self, Mullins said: “We’ll have a look – today’s race and Australia at the end of this year in November, that’s the main plan. So what we do in between times we haven’t really thought about.

“The first part of the year’s plan has worked out, and it will be probably on to Australia from here.”

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