Hollie Doyle took yet another hammer blow to racing’s glass ceiling as she got a ‘monkey off her back’ by banging in her first Royal Ascot winner, writes Will Jennings
The 23-year-old ace guided Alan King’s Scarlet Dragon to a gutsy victory in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes, as a surging charge to the line toppled Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Deja and made her the meeting’s third ever female winner.
Hayley Turner gave Ladies’ Day a welcome dose of girl power on Thursday and the precocious Doyle followed in her footsteps with aplomb, beating boyfriend Tom Marquand to a maiden Royal Ascot winner with a thrilling performance.
And Doyle, who last year broke the record for the most winners in a year by a female jockey, says she’s now ready to kick on even further after ticking off that milestone.
Wow - @HollieDoyle1 with one of the rides of the week to win the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes aboard Scarlet Dragon 👏— Ascot Racecourse (@Ascot) June 19, 2020
She becomes the third female jockey to ride a winner at Royal Ascot #RoyalAscot pic.twitter.com/RxTRDFoXw2
“It was really important that I got that Royal Ascot winner,” she said.
“I can’t talk - it feels amazing and it’s just so weird I did it on this horse as he was my first big handicap winner as an apprentice.
“It’s important for any jockey out there and it’s a monkey off my back.
“I’m very grateful, and it was a great training performance from Mr King as well.
“This horse had lost his way a little bit on the Flat, I suppose you could say, and a run like that after a lay off takes some doing.”
“Mr Ponsonby [owner] put me up on him and I won the old Rowley Cup Mile on him about four or five years ago, and to get on him today in a big day like this means the world.”
Gay Kelleway became the first female winner at Royal Ascot back in 1987, as she memorably piloted Sprowston Boy to victory in the Queen Alexandra Stakes.
A long three decade plus wait followed before Turner made it win number two, with Doyle now adding her name to the list with a triumph in the 1m4f contest.
Scarlet Dragon maintained a steady pace throughout but it was a powerful late charge that sealed it for Doyle, who demonstrated experience beyond her years to beat big-name jockeys Ryan Moore, Oisin Murphy - and boyfriend Marquand.
Marquand’s wait for a first Royal Meeting win goes on so it’s bragging rights for Doyle, who has further rides booked in Saturday’s Group Two Coventry and Queen Mary Stakes.
The jockey's strength in the saddle is deceptive and Doyle reckons it was Scarlet Dragon’s influence that got her in shape.
“You can only do [a brave ride] when you’ve got the horse underneath you to do it,” she added.
“I was cautious of this track as you can’t make a lot of ground up going wide and getting home, so I thought I’d go for the shortest route and luckily I had that horse underneath me who let me do that.
“This horse was the one who made me cop on and wake up to it [the fact I needed to work on my strength] - I was used to find him incredibly keen when I first started out riding.
“I realised that I needed to strengthen up, so this horse has taught me a lot.
“He’s given me some very good rides throughout my career so far, so this is great.”