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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.”
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