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Doyle delighted at Breeders’ Cup opportunity

Hollie Doyle is relishing the chance to cap an amazing campaign with her first ride at the Breeders’ Cup next week.

Fresh from breaking her own British record for the most winners in a calendar year by a female jockey, Doyle enjoyed a Champions Day double at Ascot a fortnight ago – including her first victory at Group One level as Glen Shiel clung on by a nose in the British Champions Sprint.

The 24-year-old will break new ground again in Kentucky, where she has been booked to partner Mighty Gurkha for Glen Shiel’s trainer Archie Watson in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.

Doyle said: “I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve always wanted to ride at the Breeders’ Cup – it’s a massive occasion and a good opportunity after a good year.

“I’ve ridden a winner in Qatar before, but I’ve never even ridden in America apart from trackwork.”

Doyle has been on board Mighty Gurkha for all but one of his six career starts to date, including a hugely impressive debut success at Lingfield in early June.

Mighty Gurkha on his way to debut success at Lingfield
Mighty Gurkha on his way to debut success at Lingfield (Mark Cranham/PA)

She is under no illusions about the task facing her mount at Keeneland, with American speedballs like Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal set to be in opposition in the five-and-a-half-furlong Grade Two.

She added: “The American horses have got such great speed and are trained round a turn, so it will be a tough ask, but it will be a good experience, and I want to take all the experience I can get really – I’m grateful for the opportunity.

“I fly out on Tuesday – we need to be there by Wednesday to check in and do the (coronavirus) tests and stuff.”

Hambleton on a high after Glen Shiel’s breakthrough win

Members of the Hambleton Racing syndicate can finally take in what it means to be Group One winners, following Glen Shiel’s breakthrough success at the highest level at Ascot.

Having gone close in the Haydock Sprint Cup, Archie Watson’s charge was surprisingly overlooked in the betting under Hollie Doyle on Saturday.

However, Doyle was on the crest of a wave after winning the opening race on Champions Day on Trueshan – and she took the early initiative before holding off the late lunge of Kevin Ryan’s Brando by the narrowest of margins in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes.

“Saturday was a massive moment for us,” said Hambleton’s Simon Turner.

“Our blueprint has always been to buy in the more affordable area of the market with top trainers, and try and compete at the highest level possible.

“At £45,000, Glen would be one of our more expensive purchases – but he seemed ridiculous value at that level. He’s been a revelation since dropped back to sprinting, and has been superbly handled by Archie Watson, who is destined for the very top of his profession in my opinion.

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“Archie’s numbers are simply superb. Some have him pigeon-holed as two-year-old trainer, but there are countless examples of Archie achieving superb results with cast-offs from other yards too, many of them cheaply acquired.

“On a personal level, to win a race at the highest level with Hambleton Racing makes me very proud. We owe much of our success to Kevin Ryan, who has always looked after us exceptionally well and has provided us with any number of good horses along the way.

“I regard Kevin as a good friend, and it was no surprise he was the first on the phone on Saturday to congratulate me, despite the fact he’d just missed out with Brando. That’s the mark of the guy – he’s not just a just an outstanding trainer, but a true sportsman too.”

There are many different business models that syndicates adopt, with some offering shares for as little as £50, but Hambleton Racing hope theirs is one of the more robust on the market – with the loyalty shown by members as living proof.

Turner said: “Owning with us isn’t cheap – typically an owner will spend between £2-4,000 on their share and another £3,000 on the annual costs.

“We’d be among the more expensive syndicates but operate with some old-fashioned values. We certainly don’t penalise owners when their horses do well, so won’t be taking a penny of the £275,000 that Glen Shiel has won for his owners this year.

“We’re very proud of the fact many owners have been with us for over 10 years, which must mean we’re doing something right.

“I don’t think we’ll suddenly change our approach and start spending twice as much at the sales now. We’ll continue to seek out the best value we can at the sales. Thankfully, there seems to be a lot of value around at the moment.”

While most of the publicity around Glen Shiel’s win concerned Doyle, given it was her first Group One win, the same also applied to Watson – who was understandably delighted.

“I’m so proud of Glen Shiel, Hollie, and the whole team after the Champions Sprint,” said the Lambourn trainer.

“Hollie gave him a fantastic ride, and he was so tough. He hasn’t stopped improving all year, and to win a Group One is unbelievable.

“I am so pleased for Hambleton Racing, who are such huge supporters of ours, and for all his owners.

“Huge credit must go to Tom Biggs, who bought Glen Shiel for just £45,000 as a five-year-old horse in training last year.”

Monday Musings: Tom and Hollie’s Top Class Show

Many famous men through history have had to accept second place in their relationships with their even more well-known better halves, writes Tony Stafford. Their own celebrity was undoubtedly the reason they first came to the attention of their future partners, none more so than Joe Di Maggio, America’s supreme baseball star of the 1950’s, who had to grow accustomed, once hitched, to being referred to as Mr Marilyn Monroe.

Joe clearly accepted that slight (as it was in those unenlightened days) on his manhood, for why else would he have continued to support the troubled platinum blonde film star through the various subsequent alliances and scandals that stretched all the way to a President of the United States? For Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels, read John F Kennedy and Marilyn, illicit alliances half a century apart.

While entertainment and sport stars have occasionally got together, rarely has it been on such an equal basis as Mr and Mrs Hollie Doyle. Sorry, not quite yet, as although the wonderful Hollie and the equally admirable Tom Marquand are no married couple, they do live together in Hungerford. After Saturday’s exploits where the 20-some pair – Tom is the younger by two years – monopolised Champions Day at Ascot to the tune of four wins, so 67% of the six races, Tom hinted that marriage might be on the horizon.

Halfway through Saturday’s card, the various television outlets were in full Hollie mode. She won the first two races on Trueshan (by miles in the Stayers) and thrillingly by a nose on Glen Shiel (Sprint) before finishing a creditable second on Dame Malliot behind the highly-talented Wonderful Tonight, trained by David Menuisier in the fillies’ and mares’ race. Had the finishing order been reversed you could have imagined Frankie Dettori, already tailed off on Stradivarius in the opener and destined to share in Palace Pier’s first career defeat later on, wondering what was going on. Ascot’s supposed to be his private venue, but sorry Frankie, even Peter Pan had to grow old one day.

As it turned out, Glen Shiel was her final win, but after a brief break in the changing room while Palace Pier was struggling into third behind The Revenant in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, she picked up lesser cheques, for sixth in the Champion Stakes on Extra Elusive for her new boss Imad Sagar, and another second on Sir Michael Stoute’s Solid Stone in the Balmoral Handicap which closed the show.

I’m not sure whether the Marquand/Doyle team pools its earnings. By all accounts they usually sit down to relax after their respective long days, maybe playing a game of cards, watching telly or maybe even examining closely the relative quality of their performances.

At times one or other might be in the ascendant, as Hollie clearly was in the first half of Saturday when the total earnings of her two wins and three minor places added up to a whopping £495,000. Modesty precludes me from checking just what the precise share of that will go to the jockey, but somewhere around seven per cent might not be far wide of the mark.

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So Hollie could rightfully say as they shuffled the cards: “Here’s my Group 2 and Group 1, can you match that?”. Well, fortunately, late-starting Tom could indeed counter. “Yes Hollie, here’s my 62 grand for the Balmoral Handicap on Njord, but my Group 1 and the 425k Addeybb won in the Champion Stakes easily matches your day’s work!”

In monetary terms it might just do so, but in the media perception – I still didn’t watch it on ITV, but Sky Sports Racing, who had to share their rightful coverage of Ascot with Racing TV and the national broadcaster - both revelled in Holliemania. It was indeed mostly a one-way street.

In the end, though, it proved to be almost a dead-heat on the earnings front, the final figure arriving at almost exactly £1 million (505 Tom and 495 Hollie); just like their riding styles: tidy, unobtrusive and in each case being in the right place at the right time in just about all their races.

I’ve mentioned Tony Nerses before and there’s no doubt that Imad Sagar’s Racing Manager played a big part in securing Hollie’s services earlier in the year. When the news came it was with a mixture of surprise at the appointment and dread that it might all go pear-shaped, but the tiny Hollie quickly grew into the role. The first Group races soon came, notably on Sagar’s Extra Elusive at Windsor in August, the highlight of her personal five-timer that day. Now she has that first Group 1 on her ever-expanding list of achievements and a record number of winners for a female rider: already pushing 120, that in a truncated year. Which of them will win the championship first? Possibly Hollie, but either will be a credit to the accolade.

There seems no limit to the list of potential employers – if you’re good enough for Sir Michael Stoute, you’re good enough for anyone. At the same time Marquand has seamlessly moved from the guy who happened to be available to partner Addeybb in those two winning Group 1 rides in Australia last winter to now being the go-to man for that well-travelled mudlark’s trainer, William Haggas.

I use the term mudlark advisedly, and there is little doubt that there is no point in turning up on Champions Day if you cannot cope with the soft ground that is almost inevitable in mid-October. That was always the main argument against staging such an important date so late in the year. In a normal mid-October once the European pattern gets through the various Classic schedules of the three major racing nations, there is little scope to go elsewhere. The Irish have their Champions weekend; France and the Arc meeting follows three weeks later, so this is where our big day has to be.

Not that the winners of Saturday’s races are anything but worthy, even if the names John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien, for whatever reason, didn’t manage to collect any first prizes. I was surprised to hear that Gosden was citing the going for Stradivarius’ capitulation in the opening Stayers race. It was the fourth time he’d contested it and he’d won it only once previously. This time he’d gone through the extra exertion of a full preparation for the Arc with a mile and a half run in one of the trials. Gosden’s suggestion that because the Arc had been run at a pedestrian pace it was less demanding than usual seemed surprising.

The biggest surprise, though, in view of his less than outstanding record at this fixture – nowhere near the level of his three Gold Cups there or four Goodwood Cups in high summer – was that he started as short as 11-10.  Trueshan came to the race having won six of ten career starts, including a defeat of smart stayer Withhold in Listed class last time at Salisbury. Runner-up Search For A Star had won the last two renewals of the Irish St Leger for Dermot Weld and third home Fujaira Star had won a Royal Ascot handicap before impressing in a top-class Ebor at York and following home Search For A Star at the Curragh. It was a hot race.

I fully expected Andrew Gemmill to have been at Ascot on Saturday for Trueshan’s win, but he stayed home. Andrew was one of the four original owners – the Singula Partnership- of Trueshan but in May last year they leased the horse to the Barbary Lions 5, a bigger syndicate of 20 in which the quartet also participates. That lease ends at the end of the year according to Andrew and it will be interesting to see whether Alan King will allow this four-year-old gelding to run over hurdles which must have been the original plan. More than likely he’ll be happy to stay on the level and try to win next year’s Gold Cup.

Some spectacular results have been achieved by two of Saturday’s winners, cheaply bought at auction some way into their careers. The Darley-bred Glen Shiel had already raced 11 times in all, once at two, then as a three- and four-year old for Godolphin with Andre Fabre, winning three times. Turning up at the Doncaster May sales as a five-year-old, unraced so far that year, he was bought on behalf of Archie Watson for £45,000 and didn’t see a British racecourse until October. Five runs before the turn of the year didn’t produce a win, but the first of three pre-lockdown appearances did.

On January 8 at Newcastle off a mark of 96 and ridden by Hollie, he won readily. It was not until another five runs later, also at Newcastle in late June that he collected again and that was the start. The son of Pivotal has shown his and his trainer’s ability with a second to Dream Of Dreams in the Haydock Sprint Cup and then by reversing that form while also seeing off perennial Group 1 sprint contender Brando, much to his rider’s evident disbelief.

Marquand was also the beneficiary of an inspired purchase. The four-year-old Njord had started out with Sheila Lavery’s Irish stable, gaining his first win off 63 in May last year. He collected again on October 13 before going to Goff’s sales six days later when BBA Ireland paid 54,000 Euro on behalf of Jessica Harrington. By now on 82, he ran back at Gowran Park only nine days after the sale, winning comfortably. Another win, soon after racing’s resumption in June came off 88 at The Curragh. On Saturday Njord ran away with the highly-competitive Balmoral Handicap and must now be on at least 110, more than three stone higher than where he started.

I highlighted the chance of The Revenant last week in this column and was not at all surprised that he coped with conditions better than Palace Pier when going one better than last year in the QE II. He now has the remarkable figures of 10 wins, two seconds and a third in 13 career starts. In that race, Sir Busker’s alarming tendency to hang left when put under pressure didn’t stop him from finishing fourth, showing that if he had been drawn on the stands side in that most unfair of all Cambridgeshires, he might well have won it. Fourth in this coveted Group 1 and almost £35k will have been satisfactory compensation.

One other horse that we in the UK probably have hardly noticed – I hadn’t! - even after his achievement of splitting Addeyyb and Magical, who was unluckily denied a run at a crucial stage, is Skalleti. This five-year-old, trained in Marseille by the talented Jerome Reynier has a record on a par with The Revenant’s. Even after Saturday’s defeat he has 12 victories from 16 and this autumn has a Deauville Group 3 victory over subsequent Arc winner Sottsass and an easy Prix Dollar victory on Arc weekend on his record.

Preconceptions proved misguided in several cases on Saturday, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that some of the winners weren’t up to standard. They were.

- TS

Sunday ‘chill-out’ is just Champion for golden couple Doyle and Marquand

Hollie Doyle and Tom Marquand were on Sunday basking in the glory of their momentous Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot.

Fresh from breaking her own British record for the most winners in a calendar year by a female jockey, at Kempton earlier in the week, Doyle enjoyed a double in the first two races in Berkshire.

After steering Alan King’s Trueshan to a wide-margin win in the Long Distance Cup, the 24-year-old claimed her first victory at Group One level as Archie Watson’s Glen Shiel clung on by a nose in the British Champions Sprint.

Not to be outdone, Doyle’s partner Marquand landed the final two events on a six-race card – aboard the William Haggas-trained Addeybb in the Champion Stakes and then Jessica Harrington’s Irish challenger Njord in the Balmoral Handicap.

With no Flat racing taking place in Britain on Sunday, both had time to reflect on an unforgettable afternoon.

Doyle said: “It was a great day. I would have been pleased just for all the horses to run well, so to ride two winners was brilliant.

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“Trueshan was very impressive, and to get off to a start like that fills you with plenty of confidence for the rest of the day.

“I didn’t think Glen Shiel had won, so it was a big shock when he was called as the winner.”

Hollie Doyle was in shock after victory aboard Glen Shiel
Hollie Doyle was in shock after victory aboard Glen Shiel (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Doyle is just as thrilled for Marquand as she is for herself, adding: “It was brilliant for Tom to win the Champion Stakes, especially with it being on Addeybb, who has been such a flagbearer for Tom. He’s a well-travelled horse, who is just getting better and better.

“We went out for dinner on the way back from racing, so that was nice.

“Today is the first day of no Flat racing in a very long time, so we’re just chilling out and taking advantage of that.”

Marquand won two Group Ones in Australia aboard Addeybb earlier in the year, and is full of praise for his trainer William Haggas after producing him to win a first top-level prize on home soil.

Addeybb and Tom Marquand (left) landed the Qipco Champion Stakes
Addeybb and Tom Marquand (left) landed the Qipco Champion Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He said: “It was unbelievable. Addeybb has done wonders for my career already, so to go and win on Champions Day was incredible.

“William has had the race as a long-term goal, and it was a masterclass in training. Taking him to Australia, bringing him back and having this race as his target and pulling it off – it’s hard to comprehend, to be honest.

“It’s the Champion Stakes and one of the hardest races of the year to win. You had Magical and other champions in there. We knew we had a top horse in Addeybb – but you can’t say you’re confident, going up against horses like that.

“We were looking forward to running and hoped he would put his best foot forward, but in your heart of hearts you can’t help but think it’s near on mission impossible trying to beat horses like that. How lucky we are to come across a horse that can do what he’s done.”

Marquand admitted the the scale of both his and Doyle’s achievement is still sinking in.

He said: “After racing we got in the car and looked at each other and started laughing – it’s ridiculous really.

“You couldn’t have written the day any better. We are both so lucky to be in the position we’re in.

“Unintentionally, I guess, we’re pushing each other. We both have similar goals and things we want to achieve. We’ve got each other’s entire and full backing, which has to make a difference.

“We never get a day off together, so today couldn’t have fallen any better. We’re just chilling out and enjoying it.”

Archie Watson thrilled to send out first Group One winner

Plenty of plaudits will rightly be attributed to Hollie Doyle following her breakthrough Group One success aboard Glen Shiel at Ascot – and it should not be lost it was also a first victory at the highest level for trainer Archie Watson.

In the four years that he has held a licence, Watson has made giant strides, enjoying plenty of success both at home and abroad, and since teaming up with Doyle, who turned 24 last weekend, he has now formed what is fast becoming a formidable partnership.

Seeing the pair notch doubles together at tracks like Wolverhampton and Lingfield has become a common sight, and the duo finally enjoyed glory on the biggest of stages thanks to the victory of the Hambleton Racing-owned gelding in the Qipco British Champions Sprint.

Watson said: “That is my first Group One winner and it is absolutely amazing. He is some horse and there aren’t many Group One horses that are picked up for £45,000 at a horses in training sale. He has just improved throughout the year.

“I was delighted to see Hollie get her first Group One winner as she is such a hard-working rider. I’m so pleased that I was able to give her that breakthrough Group One as we have had so many winners together. Her being on this winner means a lot to me and the yard.

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“I’ve been knocking on the door at Group One level with the likes of Soldier’s Call, Snowy Winter and Absolute Blast, who were all Group One-placed. For him to get his head in front is massive for the yard, as we’ve only been going just over four years.”

Making the decision to purchase Glen Shiel at the Goffs UK Spring Horses In Training/P2P Sale was a shrewd decision by Watson, but equally as important to helping the six-year-old realise his potential was reverting him back to sprinting this campaign.

Watson said: “We always intended to drop him down in trip, as when we first got him we raced him over a mile and a quarter. Since he has dropped to six furlongs he has just improved.

“He has been so consistent and he hasn’t been out of the first two over six furlongs. He has gone from winning off big weights in handicaps into conditions races and now into stakes races.

“He has only run in four Group races and he has improved in all of them, having learnt how to race over the trip.”

Though now able to celebrate the victory Watson, who watched the race away from the track, admits he was on edge awaiting the outcome of the result.

He said: “Waiting on the photo-finish was not good for me, but I thought he just held on. As it was literally a bob of the heads, you can never be confident in a situation like that.

“While I’m delighted to give Hollie her first Group One, I’m also delighted for his owners Hambleton Racing as they have been big supporters of mine.

“A lot of credit needs to go to Tom Biggs, who spotted him at the sale with me – he buys all these horses and puts me in the privileged position to train them.”

Having kept Glen Shiel busy since the start of the year, Watson intends to give his new stable star a well-deserved break before taking aim at all the major sprint races over six furlongs next year.

He said: “Everything has gone fantastic today and he will have another holiday now. I think straight tracks really play to his strengths, so he won’t be going to the Breeders’ Cup or Hong Kong. We will look at all those six-furlong races in Europe for him.

“I hope there are still more big wins in him, there will not be too much difference in him from being a six-year-old to a seven-year-old. He has been in such good form and it has been great to strike while the iron has been hot.

“Hopefully there is still more to come and he can be very competitive in these sorts of races next season.”

Hollie Doyle leaves lasting impression on unforgettable Champions Day

Hollie Doyle made her mark on an unforgettable Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot with a double that included the first Group One triumph of her career.

Glen Shiel gave the record-breaking 24-year-old that landmark success when just holding on for glory in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes.

Doyle and connections of the Archie Watson-trained six-year-old had a few anxious moments waiting for the result of the photo-finish, before it was confirmed Glen Shiel (16-1) had beaten Brando by a nose.

The epic success by the narrowest of margins capped a momentous week in another season to remember for Doyle, for it was only on Wednesday she broke her own record for number of winners by a female rider in a calendar year.

“It is a dream come true, a massive dream come true, especially on this horse. Everyone in the yard adores him,” said Doyle, who at Windsor in August became the first female jockey to ride five winners at a single meeting.

“My aim at the start of the year was to ride a Group winner and I always said a Group One one day, but I didn’t think it would come this year.

“I don’t get too carried away, but I’m a bit delusional as to what is going on at the moment as it has all been a bit of a whirlwind. It has been a great few years.

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“It feels really unusual as for someone like me it doesn’t normally happen, but it has done today.

“I’m in a state of shock right now. I didn’t think I’d won, so to have had the result we have was incredible.”

She added: “It’s not about me it’s about Archie Watson, he has campaigned this horse unbelievably. No one else would have won a Group One with this horse.”

It was only 35 minutes earlier she had become the first female to ride a winner on British Champions Day with an easy victory in the opening Long Distance Cup on Trueshan (11-1).

Leading over a furlong out, Alan King’s stayer stormed away from the opposition to score by seven and a half lengths from Search For A Song.

“That was incredible, I travelled all over them. He doesn’t like being crowded, so I switched him at the three-pole and the further I went, the better,” said Doyle.

Hollie Doyle opens her British Champions Day account on Trueshan (left) in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot
Hollie Doyle opens her British Champions Day account on Trueshan (left) in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“This is a proper horse, he won his first two starts. I’ve always liked him – but I’m not going to lie, I didn’t realise he would be up to Group Two level like today.

“The further I was going, the better. He was tanking with me and he went through the ground like a tractor.

“The pace was reasonable, but he was travelling and he felt like he was hacking round there. I switched my fellow round horses as they said he didn’t like getting crowded in the Ebor and when I pushed the button, he responded.”

A remarkable hat-trick looked on the cards when she went out to partner Dame Malliot in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

But as hard as they tried, Doyle and her mount had to play second fiddle to Wonderful Tonight and William Buick.

Thumbs up from Hollie Doyle's partner Tom Marquand after his win on Addeybb in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot
Thumbs up from Hollie Doyle’s partner Tom Marquand after his win on Addeybb in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Doyle lost nothing in defeat in the biggest race on the card, the Qipco Champion Stakes, as she steered Roger Charlton’s 33-1 outsider Extra Elusive into a creditable sixth place.

However, she would have taken pride in the outcome as the winner, Addeybb, was ridden by her partner, Tom Marquand.

Fittingly, the couple fought out the finish of the concluding Balmoral Handicap, with Marquand landing the spoils on Njord and Doyle second on Solid Stone as they ended the day all square with two winners each.

Doyle said at the conclusion of a remarkable afternoon: “It has been incredible and you wouldn’t have called it. We both came here with a few chances, but in Group Ones and races like that you need a bit of luck. It has exceeded all expectations.

“Tom really liked Addeybb today and I think that is the icing on the cake, for the horse to win a Group One in England. I thought Dame Malliot was my best chance, but I just bumped into a good one there. Glen Shiel was incredible.

“It feels really special as we are the younger generation and we are probably two of the youngest people to have ridden four winners on Champions Day out of six races.

“We are going for a meal around here somewhere which will be nice. I’m not sure who is paying, we will have to go half and half!”

Glen Shiel gives Hollie Doyle landmark first career Group One victory

Hollie Doyle landed her first Group One success when snatching the verdict on Glen Shiel in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot.

Just 35 minutes after Doyle had become the first female rider to win on British Champions Day in the opening Long Distance Cup on Trueshan, the 24-year-old broke yet more new ground in a record-breaking year.

Doyle and connections of the Archie Watson-trained six-year-old had to wait a few anxious moments for the result of the photo-finish before it was confirmed Glen Shiel (16-1) had beaten the veteran Brando by a nose.

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Glen Shiel was always in the front rank after being smartly out of the stalls and was joined three furlongs out by Oxted. The July Cup winner took the lead, but had nothing more to give in the final half-furlong.

Glen Shiel kept on giving back in front – and just held the very late challenge of 80-1 outsider Brando. One Master was half a length away in third place.

Doyle said: “I’m in a state of shock right now. I didn’t think I’d won, so to have had the result we have was incredible. We had a good old battle with Oxted from the three-pole and I thought that I would be doing well to hold on like I did, but he is such a game horse.

“He is incredible. He has got quicker with age. When we first got him, he was running over 10 furlongs in France and didn’t show a whole lot of speed, but the further we dropped him back, the quicker he has got.”

She added: “It’s not about me it’s about Archie Watson, he has campaigned this horse unbelievably. No one else would have won a Group One with this horse.

“It is a dream come true, a massive dream come true, especially on this horse. Everyone in the yard adores him. My aim at the start of the year was to ride a Group winner and I always said a Group One one day, but I didn’t think it would come this year.

“I don’t get too carried away, but I’m a bit delusional as to what is going on at the moment as it has all been a bit of a whirlwind. It has been a great few years.

“It feels really unusual as for someone like me it doesn’t normally happen, but it has done today.”

Glen Shiel hangs on from Brando
Glen Shiel hangs on from Brando (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The Kevin Ryan-trained Brando was ridden by Tom Eaves, who said: “He has run a stormer. You are always gutted finishing second, but he has run a great race. It was a bob of the heads. I’m delighted, but gutted at the same time.

“He has been running OK. He ran well at York last Saturday and that probably put him right. York has never been his sort of track. He likes it here on this big, stiff track. It is a great training performance.”

Champions Day first for Hollie Doyle as Trueshan powers to Long Distance Cup glory

Hollie Doyle broke new ground in another remarkable season, as she became the first female rider to win a race on British Champions Day with a runaway success aboard Trueshan in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.

Just days after breaking her own record for the number of winners in a year, Doyle, 24, made history at Ascot in the two-mile Group Two with Alan King’s four-year-old, as hot favourite Stradivarius finished towards the rear of the field.

Max Vega assured a solid pace from the start, with Fujaira Prince for company until the race hotted up when they turned for home.

Fujaira Prince went on, but that was short-lived as Doyle produced Trueshan (11-1) to hit the front and storm away from the opposition, going on to score by seven and a half lengths.

Search For A Song stayed on to take second spot, with Fujaira Prince half a length further back in third.

Doyle said: “That was incredible, I travelled all over them. He doesn’t like being crowded, so I switched him at the three-pole and the further I went, the better.

“This is a proper horse, he won his first two starts. I’ve always liked him – but I’m not going to lie, I didn’t realise he would be up to Group Two level like today.

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“I’m really happy people are seeing me as just a jockey and not a female jockey. Shout out to Alan King because he is some trainer.

“I rode him first time up at Wolverhampton and that was a bit of a surprise, then he bolted up at Ffos Las. I’ve not been on him since. I’m really grateful for the owners and Alan to put me back on him today.

“He was almost over-travelling with me and I had to stay out a bit wide for the first three furlongs, but luckily I managed to slot in there and got a nice position outside Stradivarius. The further I was going, the better. He was tanking with me and he went through the ground like a tractor.

“The pace was reasonable, but he was travelling and he felt like he was hacking round there. I switched my fellow round horses as they said he didn’t like getting crowded in the Ebor and when I pushed the button, he responded.

“It is testing, I’m not going to lie – it is wet, heavy ground and hard work.”

King’s assistant, Dan Horsford, said: “It looked like she jumped in two furlongs out and he would make a nice novice hurdler!

“He has been progressive all year and has improved for the step up to two miles. Who knows where he ends up from here, but it will be all the Cup races next year. I would think hurdling would be shelved.”

Trueshan powered clear at Ascot
Trueshan powered clear at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He added: “It’s unbelievable. Hollie is still unbeaten on him. She gets on very well with him. It just didn’t happen for him in the Ebor for whatever reason, but a couple of runners at the time didn’t perform to their best, so you could almost put a line through that.

“It’s been a cracking year and long may it last.”

King was not present, but said from his yard: “It’s unbelievable. Obviously we hoped he would run well, but we weren’t expecting something like that. You couldn’t expect that, but obviously the step up in trip suited him and we know he does handle that ground.

“It was all over at the two-pole and I think we scared the dogs in the house!

“Most of my Flat youngsters are bought to go over jumps, but if they’re too good, they’re too good and it’s not a problem.

“Win or lose it was always going to be his last run of the season. We’ll put him away for the winter now and look forward to next summer and the Cup races. It’s been a terrific season on the Flat and really exciting. It’s great for the whole team.”

John Gosden said of Stradivarius: “It (ground) was too deep and too heavy. He hated it and Frankie (Dettori) thought he pulled his shoes off.

“He was in good form. The ground was very deep down there and he would have probably been better running on the inner track.”

Dettori added: “I was never there and there is not much else I can say.”

Record-breaking Doyle bids for more Ascot glory

Hollie Doyle’s latest record-breaking season will reach a climax with five scheduled shots at Ascot glory on QIPCO British Champions Day.

In a year of significant milestones, Doyle enjoyed her first Royal Ascot success aboard Scarlet Dragon in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes and then went on to claim her first Group victory when Dame Malliot triumphed in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket.

A debut appearance in a Group One contest followed aboard the same filly in Germany, before Doyle set another benchmark when breaking her own British record for winners in a calendar year for a female rider when notching her 117th success of 2020 at Kempton on Wednesday.

“I don’t usually set goals – but I actually walked out into the season having that particular goal to ride a Group winner at some point, so it was an excellent day,” she said.

The next logical target is a Group One success, of course, but Doyle is prepared to wait to become only the third female jockey to ever achieve that.

“One day,” she said, when asked about the prospect.

“But I know how hard it is to come across a Group One horse, so I’ll be patient with that one.”

In August Doyle also became the first female jockey to win five races on the same card, completing her 899-1 five-timer at Windsor on mounts from five separate stables.

It came in a muted atmosphere, with racing taking place behind closed doors, and Doyle admits it took a while for the significance to sink in.

“Looking back on it now, I realise how big an achievement it was,” she said.

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“At the time I probably didn’t. It is weird at the moment, riding with no crowds and no atmosphere, so that probably was why I didn’t really take it in that much.

“It was a great day, for five different trainers as well.”

Doyle’s talents have certainly been well advertised – and owner Imad Al Sagar, whose silks were carried by 2007 Epsom Derby winner Authorized, secured her services as his retained rider back in July, with the partnership already enjoying plenty of success.

“It was the last thing that I ever really expected to happen to me, to be honest – when it did I was really surprised and excited,” she said.

Doyle will partner one of Al Sagar’s horses, the Roger Charlton-trained Extra Elusive, in the Group One QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Extra Elusive winning the BetVictor Rose Of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock
Extra Elusive winning the BetVictor Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock (Tim Goode/PA)

“He’s one of my favourites,” she said of the gelding she steered to victory in both Windsor’s Winter Hill Stakes and Rose of Lancaster at Haydock before he was third in Newbury’s Legacy Cup – all Group Three contests.

“I was very lucky to get the leg-up on him – he was one of my first rides on my new retainer with Imad Al Sagar.

“For him to have gone on to win two Group Three races already, it’s been a great year for him, and he’s really turned a corner.

“We changed the tactics up, he ran OK last time at Newbury off the back of hard races he had at Windsor and Haydock. They were two hard races for him physically, so he’s had a nice break now – and Mr Charlton seems really happy with him.

“It’s a big ask, stepping up into Group One company, but he’s one that thrives on the soft ground.”

Doyle will also join forces with another familiar ally when she partners Ed Vaughan’s Dame Malliot in the Group One QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

Dame Malliot during Princess Of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes
Dame Malliot during the Princess Of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“I love this filly – she’s always been an eyecatcher,” Doyle said.

“I won the Aphrodite Stakes last year on her and I thought she was going to go on to do bigger and better things, and that’s what she’s done.

“She was impressive at Newmarket, winning a Group Two on slow ground. We went over to Germany with her and ran her in a Group One, and she ran a big race – she just didn’t like the track, because it was quite sharp.

“I think she’ll absolutely love Ascot, she’s got form on soft ground – so it would be amazing if she could get her head in front.”

Archie Watson’s Glen Shiel supplies Doyle with another chance of a Group One triumph on the stellar card, taking his chance in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes after finishing second behind Dream Of Dreams in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Hollie Doyle partnering Glen Shiel
Hollie Doyle partnering Glen Shiel (Dan Abraham/PA)

“Usually he’s a grinder and can hit a bit of a flat spot, but he travelled the best he’s ever travelled at Haydock,” Doyle said of the gelding’s most recent performance.

“He thrives on soft ground, so we’d love to think he could reverse the form with Dream Of Dreams. But that’s not completely in his hands, because you’ve got One Master in there – who was impressive at Longchamp at the weekend -and Art Power.”

She is also set to ride Trueshan in the opening QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup and Solid Stone in the Balmoral Handicap which closes the card.

Currently sitting fourth in the Flat jockeys’ championship, Doyle is understated about her chances of eventually becoming the first ever female champion jockey in Britain.

Hollie Doyle
Hollie Doyle (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

After claiming her record-breaking Windsor five-timer, she was tipped to one day top the table by all-time great Frankie Dettori, but still remains focused on the present.

“Maybe one day, I’ve got a long way to go,” she said.

“I can improve my riding, but if I keep getting the rides and riding as many winners as I am, then I hope maybe one day I could be in contention and have a chance.

“I just hope it can encourage more people to get out there and realise it can be done. That’s what I’d like to prove.”

Marquand hails ‘remarkable’ Doyle after record-breaking success

Tom Marquand has hailed Hollie Doyle’s achievement of setting a second successive record of winners in a calendar year for a female jockey as “remarkable”.

Doyle partnered her 117th winner of 2020 at Kempton on Wednesday night and her partner Marquand, who has himself enjoyed a stellar year in gaining his first Classic in the St Leger on Galileo Chrome, believes the best is yet to come.

“I can’t imagine there are more than four or five other jockeys that are over 100 winners for the year so far. It is remarkable,” he said.

Tom Marquand stepped in for the spare ride on Galileo Chrome in the St Leger
Tom Marquand stepped in for the spare ride on Galileo Chrome in the St Leger (Alan Crowhurst/PA)
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“She was hoping that by staying for the winter she would be able to carry that momentum through, but then stopping racing for nearly three months completely knocked that on the head and we were both sat at home thinking ‘what is going to happen when racing gets going again?’.

“Neither of us were retained at the time and we weren’t sure how it would go once racing started, as we thought it would favour the retained jockeys with the one meeting a day rule as they would be able to pick and choose their rides, but she has just come out the gates flying.

“She has continually gone winner after winner. She has hit personal landmarks as well, after riding her first Group winner and becoming the first women jockey to ride a five-timer in Britain. Even this record largely goes over her head.

“Her main worry was that not many people can back up riding 100 winners in a year time and time again, and she has shown this year that she has not only been able to do that, but she has obliterated it.

“It is a credit to her grafting and nothing else. There are no secret tricks going on behind the scenes. She is just riding out every day, going racing and turning up in the best shape she can. She is in a great position as she has a fantastic job with Archie (Watson) and with Imad Al Sagar (retained owner).

“Her career is building hand over fist at the moment. She turned 24 on Sunday and relatively speaking, you would like to think there is a good chunk of her career left to be able to achieve a lot more. This is a massive achievement and hopefully a sign of things to come.”

Hollie Doyle notches 117th win of the year to set new record

Hollie Doyle set another milestone in what has been a stellar season as she broke her own British record for the most winners in a calendar year by a female jockey at Kempton.

Doyle, 24, rode State Occasion in the Unibet 3 Uniboosts A Day Nursery Handicap and she had to be at her strongest aboard Ralph Beckett’s runner, hanging on by a short head in a photo finish with Tornadic.

She ended last season with 116 winners – breaking Josephine Gordon’s record of 106 – but this was her 117th, with two and a half months of the year still to go.

Having already raced to 100 winners in early September – two months quicker than last year – Doyle has also ridden her first Group winner, on Ed Vaughan’s Dame Malliot in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket, as well as recording her first Royal Ascot success aboard the Alan King-trained Scarlet Dragon in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes.

She was also appointed as retained rider to leading owner Imad Al Sagar back in July and competed in a Group One for the first time when third aboard Dame Malliot in Germany.

Doyle became the first female jockey to ride five winners in one day at Windsor in August – and went close to a Group One success when runner-up on Glen Shiel in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Doyle told Great British Racing: “When I broke the record last year, in the back of my mind I was always thinking about breaking it again this year, as I didn’t want it to be a one-off, so I’m delighted to have achieved that goal.

“When you think that we also missed two months of racing this year (through the Covid-19 shutdown), it is amazing that I have been able to do it so quickly. I want to thank all the owners and trainers that have supported me throughout this year – without them, none of this would have been possible.”

A large proportion of Doyle’s wins have come for Berkshire-based trainer Archie Watson, who added: “Hollie is an incredibly hard-working and talented jockey.

“We have had over 100 winners together in a short amount of time and I am delighted that she is starting to gain the recognition she deserves.”

Vaughan has high hopes Dame Malliot can record fairytale win

Ed Vaughan believes Dame Malliot has a good chance of giving them both the perfect swansong in the Qipco Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The four-year-old filly, owned by Anthony Oppenheimer, is likely to be retired after the Group One feature, while Vaughan announced in July he is relinquishing his licence after 16 years.

Dame Malliot – who is set to be ridden by Hollie Doyle – has given Vaughan a pair of Group Two victories and has finished third at the top level twice this term.

Her latest run, when third in the Prix Vermeille after setting the pace, has worked out well – with the winner, Tarnawa, and the placed horses, Raabihah and Wonderful Tonight, boosting the form on Arc weekend.

Dame Malliot comes home in front at Newmarket for a famous win under Hollie Doyle
Dame Malliot comes home in front at Newmarket for a famous win under Hollie Doyle (Steve Davies/PA)
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“We were pleased to see the Vermeille form working out extremely well,” said Vaughan.

“David Menuisier’s filly (Wonderful Tonight) won the Prix Royallieu, which we were going to run in but we just decided we’d give her a little more time and wait for this one.

“I was pleased with her run in the Vermeille. She only got chinned on the line for second place, beaten a head by Raabihah who ran a great race in the Arc.

“I suppose when you’re making the running you’re always there to be shot at and it’s hard to make all, but she lost nothing in defeat.

“Hollie will ride her at the weekend, all being well.”

Vaughan reflected on Dame Malliot’s career, during which she has only run eight times but has been successful on four occasions.

“She’s been a wonderful servant. She started off at Wolverhampton in a median auction maiden and is running in a Group One in what looks like her last start,” the Newmarket handler told Sky Sports Racing.

“It’s been wonderful to be associated with a nice filly like her.

“As for her future, I don’t know. It’s up to the owner. I think it’s more likely she’ll be retired, I imagine.

“She’s done incredibly well. I’m sure the owner will want to start breeding from her next season.

“I’ve nothing nailed down yet. It doesn’t look I’ll be staying in England. I’ve a few things in the pipeline. I’ll take a bit of time off at the end of the month and go from there.”

Racing Insights, 13th October 2020

Tuesday's feature of the day is the Shortlist report, so that's where I'm going to base this piece.

So, without further ado, here is the Shortlist for Tuesday...

...where one horse, Beau Geste, leaps from the page with a maximum score of 15. He's currently available to back at around the 11/4 to 3/1 mark and I want to take a closer look at him to see if he justifies being towards the head of the market and also whether he's possibly worth sticking a quid or two on.

We'll start with the racecard...

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...which immediately alerts us to two wins and two places from his last five runs, he's dropping in class (↓1) from a 4th place finish (on turf) 44 days ago and he'll be ridden by Hollie Doyle, who herself has a good record at this venue (C5). His Geegeez Speed Rating of 79 is well clear of the next best rated, which is also another bonus.

The Instant Expert tab on the racecard adds numbers to the colours indicated on the Shortlist, as follows...

...based around the above, I can also tell you that his entire A/W career form reads 12113, all at Class 6, including the 3 from 3 here at Wolverhampton over 8.5 to 9.5 furlongs and he has finished 1211 under jockey Hollie Doyle, who herself has the C5 icon next to her name on the racecard.

In fact, since the start of 2019, Hollie has a near 1-in-5 record on this track, winning 40 of 202 races, including 32 from 89 (36%) at odds of 6/1 and shorter, 25 from 108 (23.2%) on male runners and 19 from 97 (19.6%) at Class 6, whilst she is 8 from 25 (32%) on Class 6 males sent off at 6/1 and shorter.

I don't want to labour this too much, but it's probably worth looking to see how trainer Tony Carroll fares here at Wolverhampton, as I prefer not to see trainers relying on one horse for winners and thankfully my fears on that score are allayed as he has a marginally better than 1-in-7 record here this year courtesy of 12 winners from 82.

They include 11 from 64 (17.2%) from horses with a run in the previous seven weeks, 10 from 62 (16.1%) for male runners, 9 from 30 (30%) from those sent off at odds ranging from 5/4 to 9/2, 8 from 51 (15.7%) from 3/4 yr olds and 6 from 23 (26.1%) over trips of 8.5 to 9.5 furlongs, whilst his 3/4 yr old males at 5/4 to 9/2 are 5 from 10 (50%) having ran in the previous 7 weeks and they include 2 from 2 in the last 6 weeks alone.

Whether Beau Geste goes on to win here or not, there are plenty of useful angles above that you can put into your query tool to generate future runners/winners going forward. Research is always a long-term project and whilst instant success is always welcome, it's not the be all and end all.

Summary

Beau Geste is currently the 11/4 favourite in the early market and the above analysis would appear to back that up. He's better than his last 4th place effort would suggest when staying on under hands and heels after being hampered on ground probably a bit to soft for him.

Can he win here? I'd say so, despite him being a hold-up horse. The pace profile of this contest suggests that he shouldn't win, but with a 3 from 3 record at this track, being held up hasn't stopped him yet. He might need some luck in running, but Hollie Doyle knows what she's doing and the braver amongst you might wait until the race goes in-play for a higher price on the exchanges if he is held up again.

 

Doyle delivers aboard Majestic Noor at Yarmouth

Hollie Doyle further strengthened her partnership with owner Imad Al Sagar after steering Majestic Noor to glory in the EBF Stallions John Musker Fillies’ Stakes at Yarmouth.

Having already celebrated a brace of Group Three wins aboard Extra Elusive for the Classic-winning owner since becoming his retained rider in July, the 23-year-old celebrated further big-race glory for her new boss with victory in the Listed feature at the Norfolk track.

Despite being faced with a wide draw in stall 13, Doyle quickly got the John Gosden-trained filly settled into a prominent position just behind early leaders A La Voile and Bighearted before taking command of the race over a furlong out.

Responding well to pressure, Majestic Noor stayed on strongly to hold Black Lotus at bay by a length and a half to give champion trainer Gosden back-to-back wins in the race having claimed the prize 12 months ago with subsequent Hardwicke Stakes winner Fanny Logan.

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Doyle said of the 9-2 winner: “It was pleasing performance. She jumped well and I was lucky enough to get the box seat and the further I went, the better.

“I got there in a great position (from wide draw) in the end and luckily I was not caught out three wide. She is a very straightforward filly that made my life easy.

“It was a really open field. She ran over 12 furlongs last time out in France and I know they don’t think she really stayed, but I know she stays 10 furlongs through and through, so I made a bit of use of her.

“I watched her run in Longchamp and it was the day I met Imad and Tony (Nerses, racing manager) and I thought ‘I can’t wait to ride next time, stepping back in trip’. I needed a bit of company as she wasn’t doing a whole lot when I hit the front, but she has gone away nicely.”

Doyle believes Majestic Noor is capable of scoring back in Group race company, should connections decide to take that route.

She added: “She has been tried over 12, she didn’t quite get it in a Group Three at Longchamp, but 10 furlongs she gets easily. I’d like to think there is a Group race in there and I’m sure Mr Gosden will be on the case. Over here or France would be ideal.”

In what has already been a season to savour for Doyle, who claimed her first Royal Ascot winner in June, and a first Group race success at Newmarket the following month, she feels her new retainer has worked out better than expected.

She said: “I’m pretty jammy aren’t I? I’ve had two Group Threes on Extra Elusive so he is probably my biggest one for the owner, but this is up there as well.

“It has gone really well. I was in the right place at the right time.”

Hollie Doyle races to century of winners at Sandown

Hollie Doyle raced to 100 winners for the year with victory aboard Maximal at Sandown Park on Friday.

Doyle, 23, steered the Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt to a dominant success in the British Stallion Studs EBF Novice Stakes, with the Khalid Abdullah-owned youngster making it third time lucky after previously finished second at Newbury in July and at this venue last month.

The result was scarcely in doubt, with 2-7 favourite taking over the running early in the home straight and readily pulling five lengths clear of Toromona.

Doyle told Racing TV: “It was a great performance. He jumped smartly and travelled well.

“He didn’t do a whole lot early on and didn’t realise he was in the race until the two furlong pole when I put him eyeball to eyeball with the leader. After that he grabbed hold of the bridle and took me away.”

Doyle was reaching her century much quicker than in 2019, when she got to three figures at Chelmsford on November 21 – and that is despite racing being forced to shut down for almost three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

She went on to break Josephine Gordon’s record of 106 winners for a female jockey and ended 2019 with a total of 116.

Hollie Doyle gave Scarlet Dragon a fine ride to triumph at Royal Ascot
Hollie Doyle gave Scarlet Dragon a fine ride to triumph at Royal Ascot (Megan Ridgwell/PA)

Doyle’s burgeoning career has reached even greater heights this season, with a first Royal Ascot success aboard Scarlet Dragon in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes followed by a maiden Group-race win aboard Ed Vaughan’s Dame Malliot in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket.

The record-breaking rider has since been signed up as retained rider for leading owner Imad Al Sagar and competed in a Group One for the first time when third aboard Dame Malliot in Germany.

Even more recently Doyle became the first female jockey to ride five winners in one day at Windsor and went close to a Group One success when runner-up on Glen Shiel in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock.