With just over two months of the calendar year remaining, how confident are you of reaching that magical 100?
You can never take anything for granted in this game, but I’m hoping to get there with a few weeks to spare. I’d hate to get to the middle of December and still be a few winners short. Things do start to dry up a little bit at this time of year but I’m only seven away so I’m staying focussed.
What would it mean to you to become only the third female jockey to achieve the feat behind Hayley Turner and Josephine Gordon?
It would be a dream really. Something I would never have even considered a month or two ago. Josie set the record with 106 winners in 2017 so to surpass that would be amazing, but It’ll just be a relief to get to the 100 mark. Maybe then I could start thinking about breaking the record.
All-Weather Championships Season 7 begins at Newcastle live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Tuesday 22nd October.
So has this year really has exceeded your expectations?
Oh definitely. Even if I didn’t reach a century I’d have to look back and be very happy with the way things have gone. I passed my personal best total of 59 - which I achieved in 2017 - back in the summer and the good rides on good horses have just kept on coming.
Being one of the smallest riders in the weighing room, you probably don’t need to worry too much about your weight.
I’m very lucky in that respect. I weigh less than 8st so I can pretty much eat what I like, when I like. I do like to keep fit though and get to the gym when I can to work on maintaining my body strength. A lot of jockeys can’t afford to work out because it builds up muscle mass which in turn puts on weight. With me that’s never an issue.
You’ve ridden a number of Listed winners this year including your first on the All-Weather.
It was great to win the Listed Hever Sprint Stakes at Lingfield Park for Archie (Watson) on Gorgeous Noora back in February. David Redvers of Tweenhills Stud sent us the mare to try and get her some black type so to achieve it so quickly was really satisfying. She’s now in foal to the Australian sire Zoustar so it would be nice to get a ride on her off-spring one day.
What makes working for Archie so enjoyable?
It’s such a very well run yard. Everyone knows their job each morning and the attention to detail is amazing. The horses just thrive there and are breaking record after record. Personally, it’s lovely to be able to educate the two-year-olds at the beginning of the year and then get the chance to ride them in their races through the summer. I go into Archie’s four mornings a week so I know the horses inside out. To me that’s such an advantage when you get to the races.
The fact that Archie has shown so much faith in you must have given you a lot of confidence.
Without a doubt. It’s wonderful to get to ride the horses on the racetrack when you’ve put in so much ground work at home, but Archie has put me up in the big races, too. I’ve really enjoyed flying out to Paris and riding in those Listed races which we’ve had a lot of success in.
When I worked for Richard Hannon I wasn’t getting those opportunities. It was a bigger yard and the majority of the rides were going to the bigger name jockeys, which was understandable. I could have stayed there and just ticked over, riding 20-30 winners a year, but I wanted to challenge myself so the chance to join Archie in the summer of 2018 couldn’t have come at a better time.
Do you plan to ride on the All-Weather all winter?
Yes, definitely. I’ll take a couple of weeks’ holiday but apart from that I just want to keep the momentum going. Archie will have a big team and I enjoy riding for the other trainers who have been very loyal to me, such as William Stone, who has supported me since I was a 7lb claimer. William is quite under-rated. He does very well with what he has to work with and I love riding winners for him.
With so much momentum behind you, have you considered a crack at the All-Weather jockeys’ championship?
We’ll have to see what kind of start I make but if it goes well up to Christmas I wouldn’t rule it out. I’d have to get off to a flyer but unless Adam Kirby and Luke Morris, who have dominated it in recent years, decide not to ride all winter it’s going to be very difficult. I’ll just keep going in the same way, riding as many horses as I can and trying to keep the winners coming.
Is there a horse you’re particularly looking forward to riding?
Archie has a nice two-year-old called Hassaad that he’s planning to keep on the All-Weather. I won a novice race on her at Brighton and she ran very well under a penalty at Wolverhampton after that. She’s by Kodiac, who is a top All-Weather sire, and should be able to progress in sprints.
Do you have a favourite All-Weather track?
I’d have to say Lingfield. I consider it to be a good front-runner’s track – a very fair track. If you can kick on off the bend you can be hard to catch. I also enjoy Newcastle, even though it’s a long way from home. It’s a lovely galloping track that’s ideal for those maidens. I enjoyed winning the traditional Blaydon Races Nursery there for Archie on Gallaside in September.
How important to you think the All-Weather Championships are for racing?
I think it’s a great initiative. It gives so many jockeys a winter platform and offers young apprentices a great opportunity to gain experience, get noticed and develop valuable contacts to take into the turf season in the spring. The introduction of a Champion Apprentice award has been such a positive thing and it was great to see Nicola Currie win that last season.
Your partner Tom Marquand, himself a successful young jockey, has also enjoyed a stellar year in the saddle, but will you be competing against each other this winter?
Probably not. Tom would love to go back to Australia for a few months. He had such a great time there last year, but nothing has been confirmed yet. He enjoys the warm weather but I’m happy holding the fort and working hard at home. We moved house a few months ago so I’m much closer to Archie’s yard now which will make life a lot more convenient on those dark winter mornings.
HOLLIE DOYLE FACTFILE:
Main stable: Archie Watson.
Race record: 2019 – 93 wins*, 634 rides; 2018 – 54 wins, 591 rides; 2017 – 59 wins, 516 rides; 2016 – 33 wins, 258 rides.
Big race winners 2019: Dame Malliot (Listed Aphrodite Fillies’ Stakes), Shades Of Blue (Listed Prix Hampton), Gorgeous Noora (Listed Hever Sprint Stakes)
***Statistics accurate on 17th October 2019.***