James Doyle is riding on the brink of elite in England
It is difficult to discern whose star is in the ascendancy. James Doyle on Saturday night will get the leg up on Kingman, the unbeaten favourite for the English 2,000 Guineas, and it is the rider, not the racehorse, who has been generating the headlines at Newmarket this week.
The 26-year-old English jockey, whose mother is a trainer, has been in blistering form in Britain since his return from riding in the UAE for Dhruba Selvaratnam. In a sport where defeat is more regular than victory, he has ridden 12 winners in the past seven days in the run-up to the most important engagement of his career.
He rode 13 winners in total in the UAE this year. Since he won the Dubai Duty Free on Cityscape in 2012, Doyle has risen through the ranks and is on the brink of breaking into the elite. It easily could be Kingman who smashes down the door for Doyle to enter the hallowed area reserved for the top jockeys.
Doyle’s rise took an exponential change of course last season when he partnered Al Kazeem to three victories at the highest level, with his triumph in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes triggering a Royal Ascot treble.
Cityscape and Al Kazeem may have been the horses that etched Doyle’s name into the consciousness of racing folk, but Classics are a class apart and there is the sense that Kingman could be something special.
“I was very happy with my season in Dubai,” Doyle said. “When I arrived there, the horses were not quite ready, for whatever reason, but we waited a month and Dhruba got them back to their best.
“United Color ran well in the Dubai Golden Shaheen and is good enough to run in Singapore next month, if he is invited. I’m looking forward to riding Kingman.”
Doyle has spent less than a year in his role as retained British rider for owner Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, having been appointed in August, but the waxing of his career threatens to eclipse those whose powers are on the wane.
If further evidence is needed that a changing of the guard is under way at the apex of British racing, on Wednesday, trainer Richard Hannon snapped up the services of two veteran riders. Keiren Fallon and Frankie Dettori boast six victories in the 2,000 Guineas between them but were surplus to requirements until Fallon was called to ride Saeed Manana’s Night Of Thunder, and Dettori to take on Shifting Power.
Kingman faces 13 rivals, and among them are Aidan O’Brien’s duo of former race favourite Australia and War Command, who won at Royal Ascot last season before signing off his juvenile career with a win in the Dewhurst Stakes.
Toormore, who beat Godolphin’s Be Ready in the Craven Stakes, is another potential danger, while spice is added to the race in the form of Noozhoh Canarias, the first Spanish horse to run in the British Classic.
Godolphin will be represented by the underrated Breeders’ Cup winner Outstrip, who lines up for Charlie Appleby and will be ridden by Mickael Barzalona. The Dubai team is completed by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid’s exciting Ertijaal.
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Published: May 2, 2014 04:00 AM