Record-breaking rider Hollie Doyle is relishing the opportunity to take part in a British Group One for the first time when she partners Glen Shiel in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday.
The 23-year-old has enjoyed an astronomical rise during the past 18 months, with her tally of 116 winners in 2019 a new record for a female jockey in a calendar year.
Her burgeoning career has already reached even greater heights this season, with a first Royal Ascot success aboard Scarlet Dragon in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes followed by a first Group-race win aboard Ed Vaughan’s Dame Malliot in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes.
Doyle has since been signed up as retained rider for leading owner Imad Al Sagar and competed in a Group One for the first time aboard Dame Malliot in Germany, while just a week ago she became the first female jockey to ride five winners in one day at Windsor.
Already closing in on a century of winners for the year, Doyle will break new ground on Merseyside this weekend as she bids to become only the third female rider to win a British Group One.
Alex Greaves was the first woman to strike top-level gold on the Flat when dead-heating in the 1997 Nunthorpe on Ya Malak, before Hayley Turner completed a Group One double in 2011 – landing the July Cup on Dream Ahead and the Nunthorpe aboard Margot Did.
Doyle – who is an ambassador for Sky Sports Racing – said: “It is great to pick up the ride. These opportunities are what I wish for, so I can’t complain.
“Glen has been improving all year and I’m really looking forward to riding him. He seems in great form at home and I’m sure he’ll run a big race.
“I’ve had a few good Saturdays lately and it would be good to have another, but we will have to wait and see.”
Trained by Archie Watson, the Hambleton Racing-owned six-year-old was last seen claiming Group Three honours in the Phoenix Sprint Stakes at the Curragh.
“He surprises us all the time,” said Doyle, who has ridden big winners for Hambleton in Doha and France in the last 12 months and boasts an impressive 29 per cent strike-rate in their beige and blue silks.
“We got him from Andre Fabre and he had been running over 10 furlongs and looked like a middle-distance horse, but he was showing a lot of speed in his races and not getting home so we dropped him back in trip and that has been the key to him.
“The soft ground will really suit him – he appreciated it in Ireland. I thought it was a career-best performance as he didn’t have it easy, but he picked up well late on. These sprinters are so in and out you never know what you are going to expect from them, but I’m hoping for a good run.”
Providing an upbeat report on the six-year-old’s well-being, Watson said: “He came out of the Curragh well and I’m delighted with him at home. He deserves to take his chance in these Group One sprints.”
Just as for Doyle, it will be a big day for the team behind Hambleton Racing, with director and founder member Cosmo Charlton saying: “Glen’s owners have talked about little else in recent weeks and can’t wait for Saturday.
“He’s been superbly handled by Archie and could well have more to offer.”