Hollie Doyle literally took my suspect breath away when the sensational, championship-chasing ‘pocket rocket’ landed a dramatic close shave double aboard Archie Watson-trained Bicep and Excel Power on Lingfield polytrack Tuesday night with power-packed performances which really had to be seen to be believed; they were reminiscent of what it must have been like a hundred years ago as ‘lookalike’ multiple-champion jockey Gordon Richards thrilled racing fans of the ‘Sport Of Kings’ with unbelievable feats of horsemanship, when also in his early twenties.
Both were born small, under five feet, weighing less than seven stone but possessing courage, dynamism and balance which serves to propel thoroughbreds with such unique styles; in finishes they climb onto the withers and drive down with tremendous rhythm. I feel privileged to watch Hollie replicate the feats of ‘Moppy’ and there is a distinct possibility this is the first female champion jockey, much-chronicled in the last two years during which Ms Doyle has ridden more than a hundred and fifty winners twice.
Bicep was debuting in a Novice Stakes over six furlongs but Hollie had the Archie Watson-trained Mehmas colt out and away as stalls opened and they were flying round the final left-handed bend; ‘you can’t do it at both ends’ is my belief but amazingly the order was maintained as others attempted to reduce arrears.
Three hundred yards out Hollie knew her mount was emptying but didn’t panic, just kept remarkably cool by driving rhythmically and prevailed by a nose with the runner-up beating the third by the same margin; incredible, what a photo she could/should obtain and hang on a wall of the home she shares with Tom Marquand who must never cease to be amazed by his soon wife-to-be!
Half an hour later over the same course and distance Extel Power raced prominently but was forced wide on the bend; he had just a glimmer of hope on the outside entering the final furlong at which point Hollie changed her hands, pulled her whip through and galvanised the Slade Power colt into a colossal finishing burst. They led right on the post to win by a neck.
Never in my life have I witnessed better jockeyship and I’m not given to drama for sensation, my word has always been truth, and fact.
All-weather racing produced Alex Greaves in the 1990-s, Hayley Turner upped the ante fifteen years ago with a century and Josephine Gordon bettered it but now, wow; this is the ‘real deal’ and as Frankie Dettori gets ready to hang up his boots we have more entertainment-plus to relish and savour.
Unfortunately I’m living on ‘borrowed time’ but intend doing exactly what cardiologists advise, just to keep readers in profit and watch Hollie, who caused my pacemaker-driven pulse to go into overdrive at the Surrey venue where so many finishes are indeed heart stoppers!
Wonder what’s in store today; here are the selections.
Selections, Worcester, 3.45 Johnny B; Ripon, 4.40 Arthur’s Realm (e.w); Carlisle, 7.15 Injazati.
Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019