At just 20, Joe Doyle continues to attract the plaudits, proving an apprentice worth following. With a valuable 3lb claim at his disposal he is part of a talented set up for North Yorkshire trainer Kevin Ryan.
From Holyross in County Tipperary, Doyle was passionate about riding from a young age, and as a teenager won a dream of a prize in an All-Ireland competition of junior jockeys. Two weeks work experience at Ballydoyle, working alongside Aidan O’Brien, would prove an inspiration, providing another push in the right direction for the talented youngster.
At 15, Doyle hit the headlines at the famous Dingle three-day Festival of Horse and Pony Racing, winning no less than five trophies including the major event, the Dingle Derby. The event on the glorious west coast of Ireland occurs in the second week of August each year and attracts a huge crowd, made up of locals and many from England, Scotland and Wales.
A field a mile from Dingle is converted into a racecourse, with the meeting similar to point to points held throughout the UK and Ireland. It’s the largest horse and pony race meeting in the country, with more than 20 races. Famous jockeys have found success at Dingle before going on to hugely memorable careers. Richard Hughes, Nina Carberry, Aidan Coleman, Noel Fehily, Pat Smullen, and Barry Geraghty, are just some that appear on an illustrious roll of honour.
For Doyle the outstanding three days brought him to the attention of a number of local Irish trainers. And at 16 he rode his first winner as an apprentice at Leopardstown for Denis Hogan. Speaking at the time of the win, the Tipperary trainer said of his young rider: “It’s great for young Joe. He’s 16 and a local fellow. He signed on to Charlie Swan and he would ride work for us. He’s ridden a lot of pony race winners and it’s good to get the ball rolling for him.”
Doyle moved to the UK, finding success riding for John Quinn. After a quiet spell settling into his new surroundings during 2013, he soon established himself as an apprentice to follow, landing more than 30 winners in both 2014 and 2015.
He’s now based in Hambleton at Kevin Ryan’s yard having accrued 73 winners with Quinn over the two years. On his website Ryan comments: “With plenty of experience at a young age, he continues to improve and strengthen in his saddle. Having already impressed many trainers in the North he will have plenty of support during the 2016 season.”
That certainly appears the case thus far, and in the last two weeks he has won aboard horses for his boss, along with James Given and Paul Midgley. He currently stands on 14 wins for the current campaign, at an attractive strike rate of 15%.
Doyle’s a stylish and well-balanced young jockey, and is sure to get plenty of opportunities at one of the most powerful yards in the north. He’s likely to be brought along at the right pace, given the right type of rides to aid his progression and build his confidence, something that is crucial for all young jockeys, indeed all young sportsmen.
After a successful period toward the end of May, and a win on the yard’s The Wee Barra at Hamilton, Ryan’s website again carried a post emphasizing the high opinion the team have of the young rider. “Joe showed again why he is an apprentice to follow with a strong ride aboard The Wee Barra,” the piece said. “Sometimes jockeys can kick a little too early at Hamilton, forgetting that the final furlong is on the rise. Joe has a great knack for getting horses to travel and he did it again.”
Nottingham and Ayr are next on the agenda for Doyle, with four rides currently in the book. He’s just one of a sizeable number of talented apprentices fighting to make a name for themselves, in a business where competition is incredibly tough, and opportunities to shine are hard to come by.
He’s another that made his mark on the pony circuit in his youth, and seems destined for a bright future.