Hollie Doyle set a record for most wins in a calendar year by a female jockey when Class Clown won at Southwell on Thursday night. It was her 107th winner since Jan 1.
Last month, Doyle, 23, joined Hayley Turner and Josephine Gordon as only the third female jockey to ride 100 winners in a year and, having been level with Gordon’s record of 106 since Saturday, she finally got there under floodlights in the Ladbrokes Where The National Plays Nursery.
“I feel a bit emotional,” she said. “I set out to ride as many winners as I could this year so to achieve a British record for female jockeys is very satisfying and wonderful way to end 2019.
“The fact that it was only two years ago that Josie set the record is very positive and goes to show women are being given more rides every year. I’ve been amazingly lucky to avoid injury and to work for amazing trainers and owners, so I’d like that to continue and have even more winners in 2020.”
Speaking about the David Barron-trained Class Clown’s head victory over Jochi Khan, she told Sky Sports Racing: “He was a big baby. When I turned in, I thought I was going to hose up. Two out, I thought I’d get there nice and easy, and then I didn’t think I’d get by the horse in front, but the penny finally dropped.”
Turner, who became the first female jockey to ride a Royal Ascot winner for 32 years in June, said: “Hollie has a great attitude. She’s worked really hard all year. It’s great for the sport and I’m really pleased to see so many female jockeys doing so well. The standard seems to be raised every year and hopefully that continues.”
If it was a big night for Doyle, it is a big weekend for Lambourn trainer Warren Greatrex. On Saturday, he runs the favourite, Mulcahys Hill, in the Randox Health Becher Chase at Aintree, while stable star La Bague Au Roi, who was in season on her last start, goes for the Fitzdares Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on Sunday.
The Grand National course should be a walk in the park for Mulcahys Hill after some of the things he has been through. As a young horse, he sustained a fractured shoulder when he was hit by a car in Lambourn.
Last season, he was one of the horses to fall at the second last in the fateful National Hunt Chase and laid down for 10 minutes afterwards. But he got up and the reason he is favourite for Saturday's race is that he bounced back at Cheltenham in October and beat Wholestone, who has won since.
“He’s always been a handful,” said Greatrex. “He has quietened down but he’s still ridden on his own. You never know quite what you’ll get with him but, in a race, you get a horse who is wholeheartedly committed – he’d run until he drops.”