Hollie Doyle takes joint-third in Hong Kong jockeys’ challenge

Hollie Doyle broke yet more new ground in a stellar year when she won the fourth and final leg of the Longines International Jockeys Championship in Hong Kong.

That was enough for Doyle to share joint-third spot with Alexis Badel behind the Hong Kong-based winner Zac Purton and runner-up Joao Moreira.

Doyle – only the third woman to contest the championship after Emma-Jayne Wilson (2007) and Chantal Sutherland (2009) – struck on the strongly-fancied Harmony N Blessed for David Hayes in a six-furlong handicap at Happy Valley to cap an amazing 2020.

The year has brought her a first Royal Ascot winner, a Champions Day double that saw a first Group One success, a record five winners at Windsor, breaking her own female jockeys’ record of winners in a year, being named Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year and being shortlisted for BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Out of luck on her three previous mounts in the competition, and one earlier on the undercard, the 24-year-old came good on Harmony N Blessed to become the first British female jockey to have a winner in Hong Kong.

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Well-positioned from the stalls, Doyle waited until the top of the straight to ask Harmony N Blessed for a winning effort. The gelding responded and managed to hold the challenge of Ryan Moore on Grateful Heart.

Doyle said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable. I knew I had a good chance on this horse, but you need a lot of things to go right.

“He jumped well, I didn’t have to ask much of him early on and he settled really nicely on the girths of the leader really nicely. The further I was going, the better.”

Doyle’s partner Tom Marquand picked up his only points in the same race by dead-heating for third place on Wind N Grass.

Doyle added: “It’s a huge privilege for Tom and I to be asked after a great season and it’s icing on the cake!”

Tied with Moreira on 18 points heading into the deciding race of the contest, Purton collected an invaluable two after Flying Bonus shared third with with Wind N Grass.

Moreira, who needed to finish ahead of Purton in the last to add another accolade to his bulging collection, crossed the line in sixth place on Cue The Music, failing to improve his score.

Purton said: “In a competition like this when there’s so much on the line, it certainly feels nice to have won it again, it’s another moment that I’ll cherish.

“I didn’t start off too well but we built into it after that. Like I’ve been saying for quite some time now, barriers win races and unfortunately for me it seems have been going on for months.

“I’ve been drawing such bad barriers, every meeting, it’s making so difficult to be competitive.

“Then I come here tonight and, as I said, they weren’t the best rides in the race but the barriers gave them the chance to be competitive. I just needed a bit of luck and things went my way.”

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