In what has been a year packed full of milestone moments for jockey James Doyle, the best could almost be saved until last should One Master triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Churchill Downs on Saturday.
With notable victories in the Irish Oaks and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes added to his increasingly-sparkling CV, the 30-year-old holds realistic claims of securing another first at a meeting in which success has so far eluded him.
Doyle said: “It’s nice to be part of the Breeders’ Cup as it is one of best racing carnivals in the world. I’ve had a few chances, it has not really happened for me there yet, but it would great if it did this year.
“I finished third in the Juvenile Turf back in 2015 on Birchwood and that gave me a taste of what it would be like to win.
“So far this year the Irish Oaks on Sea Of Class would be the big highlight, that was a fantastic day going to Ireland. The link up with Poet’s Word was good as well. Winning the Prince of Wales’s at Royal Ascot was pretty special.
“The King George is one of our stand-out Group One races, so having won a Prince of Wales’s Stakes before I’d say the King George win topped it as it was nice to tick that off.
“The Breeders’ Cup is a different kind of buzz, though, and it is quite close up and personal compared to something like Royal Ascot. Every jockey wants to ride a winner there.”
While the two victories the William Haggas-trained four-year-old has achieved this season in a Group Three at Tipperary and in the Prix de la Foret at ParisLongchamp have come without the assistance of Doyle, he feels there are plausible reasons behind the two defeats he has suffered aboard her this year.
He added: “I’ve not really had many opportunities on her. She had a bad draw at Goodwood and was nearly drawn off the track, but she still ran a fantastic race.
“The other run in Ireland was over six furlongs on fast ground and she didn’t quite have the speed to go that pace, although she still finished third and was only beaten just over a length.”
Although the daughter of Fastnet Rock has stamina to prove on her first attempt at a mile, along with having it all to do from stall one, there is little doubt in the mind of Doyle he is not simply flying out to help make up the numbers.
He added: “It looks a wide-open race. She was one of the lucky ones in the Foret as there were a lot who didn’t get a clear run, but she got a clear passage.
“I think we are going to be the one that needs luck on Saturday drawn in stall one, as from that draw we need a lot to go our way.
“She relishes cut in the ground and from what I’m hearing it is pretty soft and as long as it keeps raining we will be happy, as the softer the better.
“I think she should be fine over the mile, as she won over seven and a half the time before. She hit the line well and it was not like she was stopping and she was only getting going at the line. It is a relatively easy mile, so she should be fine.”
There will be plenty of racing fans back home willing Doyle on – and he can be rest assured he will have at least one very important supporter by his side to help him crown what has been a sensational few months.
He said: “My sister Sophie had hoped to have a ride at the meeting, too, which would have been good, but unfortunately it didn’t quite happen for her.
“She is down in New Orleans and she is still going to come and support me, which will be great.”