This wide-eyed enthusiasm has been seen before, but perhaps this will be the last example of it for some time.
James Doyle first rode out for Saeed bin Suroor at Al Quoz Stables only a few days after Christmas.
[ Godolphin buys Uruguayan horse Sir Fever and is under care of Charlie Appleby ]
To be up on millions of dirhams worth of horseflesh is nothing new to the 26-year-old rider, who scythed through the European turf season last year aboard Kingman. What is new, though, is to be doing it to the backdrop of the Dubai skyline at Godolphin’s headquarters.
Godolphin have used several jockeys since Frankie Dettori left the international stable in 2012, with Silvestre de Sousa, Kieren Fallon, Frederick Tylicki, Richard Hughes and Harry Bentley having all taken turns to ride for Bin Suroor until November.
It has been a cathartic process, the result of which was Doyle’s 25 mounts in Britain for Bin Suroor last year being converted into a full-time contract to ride for the international stable anytime, anywhere.
The move is part of a Godolphin remake.
Every horse owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will race in the famous Godolphin silks, and Doyle could be required to partner any one of those in Dubai, Britain, Ireland, the United States, Japan or Australia.
It is a job that, before 2012, any jockey in the world would have wanted.
Doyle, the Englishman from Cambridge, said he hopes that one day his new role will be coveted once more as Godolphin look to build towards again competing with Ireland’s Coolmore Stud on a level footing.
“It is not that the other jockeys were doing anything wrong at all, but I am looking forward to having a long career with Godolphin and hopefully I can help put us back up where we were before,” Doyle said.
Bin Suroor and Dettori cut a swathe through world racing at the height of their powers and Doyle knows that if he continues to ride as he has done since he scored in the Dubai Duty Free at Meydan Racecourse aboard Cityscape in 2012 he might be considered among the world’s elite.
It is a beguiling thought and one that stands to make him wealthy.
Despite another Dubai World Cup Carnival trainer’s title and a victory in the Dubai World Cup, courtesy of African Story, 2014 was not a vintage year for Bin Suroor worldwide.
De Sousa, who took the lion’s share of the trainer’s rides, still accumulated more than Dh29 million in prize money in the UAE.
A few nights ago, Doyle stayed up to remind himself of the indefatigable trainer’s achievements. “I was there for a long time and it is just unbelievable how many races around the world he has won,” Doyle said.
“The wealth of knowledge that he has is awesome and it is exciting more than anything else to be a part of it all.”
Later this week, Doyle’s good friend William Buick, the Briton born in Norway, will arrive in Dubai to take up his role as first jockey at Marmoom Stables under the wing of Charlie Appleby.
Appleby revealed in October that Godolphin had taken the decision that change was needed to lead the world again.
The Godolphin trainer sees the link between Doyle and Buick as central to the royal-blue team moving forward.
Doyle will be aboard Appleby’s Ahtoug on Thursday night at Meydan Racecourse in the Longines Master Collection for the opening night of the Carnival and will ride out every Thursday for the duration of the UAE season.
“The whole idea of employing these two is that they are top jockeys and it helps hugely that they are great friends,” Appleby said.
“If there is no rivalry between them it means they will have a better team ethic.
“If you wanted to have a proper tag team in racing, you can’t get any better. They have so much potential.”
We have been here before, but Doyle has all the attributes to ensure the possibility of a lasting relationship.
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