Sky Sports Racing ambassador Hollie Doyle heads to Doncaster on Friday for seven rides as she looks for one more winner to break a new personal record for victories in a calendar year.
Wait is over to ride Frankel filly
I have been waiting for the chance to get on my boss Imad Alsagar’s well-bred filly NASHWA for a while now and my chance has finally come in the Virgin Bet EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes (1.30) at Doncaster on Friday.
Trained by John and Thady Gosden, she is by the great Frankel out of a mare called Princess Loulou who is also the dam of the boss’s useful handicapper Louganini – a gelding I won on at Ascot earlier this year.
She is a May foal which explains why she has not seen a racecourse but is stoutly bred and the straight mile at Doncaster looks an ideal starting point. Friday will be a learning curve but hopefully she will be up to making a bright start.
Big chance for Hannon team in Nursery
A busy day at Doncaster could get off to a winning start with SHARVARA in the Virgin Bet Nursery Handicap (1.00). Richard Hannon’s colt won impressively for Ben Curtis at Hamilton two starts ago on similarly soft ground.
He had excuses last time when he didn’t appear to get the longer trip at Nottingham but dropping back to a mile on a nice galloping track like Town Moor looks a positive step. He is a free-going sort but if I can get him to drop his head and relax he is a player off a fairly light weight.
Lord deserves first success
LORD RAPSCALLION is such a tough and consistent gelding who so deserves to get his head in front for the first time this year in the Vertem Investing In The Future Handicap (2.40) on Town Moor.
I was third on Stuart Williams’ grey in the Bunbury Cup in the summer – just one of a string of solid efforts in defeat – but he’s now dropped below last year’s winning mark. Though he stays a mile he has the speed to cope with the drop back to six furlongs in what should be a strongly run race.
Soft ground the key to Kolisi
Soft ground brought the best out of William Haggas’s three-year-old KOLISI when he won at Salisbury for my fiancé Tom (Marquand) back in the summer so I’m expecting a bold show in the Virgin Bet Handicap (3.50) at Doncaster.
He was a shade keen on his return from a break at Nottingham last week but the combination of easy ground and the 10-furlong trip puts him into the equation, especially if the first-time blinkers have the desired effect.
Jabbar open to improvement
Al Shaqab Racing’s Galileo Gold colt JABBAR re-appears in the British EBF Maiden Stakes (2.05) at Doncaster after finishing mid-division in a seven-furlong novice at Newbury on debut. Andrew Balding’s juvenile is related to lots of winners so significant progress shouldn’t be out of the question.
I ride William Muir and Chris Grassick’s SUNSET MEMORY in the first division of the virginbet.com Handicap (4.25). She looked useful when making most of the running in a Sandown handicap last month but looked a non-stayer over one-mile-and-four-furlongs at Wolverhampton after that. Dropping back to her winning distance should help.
In division two, MUSTAZEED must prove himself in more testing conditions after winning on good to firm for Chris Wall at Yarmouth a few starts ago. He is still 9lb higher in the weights but ran respectably at Kempton off a similar mark to this at the end of September.
Hoping corks will be popping for Vineyard
RED VINEYARD is the horse I am most looking forward to riding at Newbury on Saturday and I am fully expecting him to emerge with credit from the Group Three Virgin Bet Horris Hill Stakes (2.00).
I won on William Muir and Chris Grassick’s colt at Ffos Las a few weeks ago, when he made his racecourse debut in a seven-and-a-half-furlong restricted maiden.
A half-brother to Group One star Red Cadeaux, he was very professional that day and whilst this task demands a lot more, connections have nothing to lose and have a very nice prospect on their hands for next year whatever the outcome.
Swansong for Group hero
Nothing would make me happier than guiding EXTRA ELUSIVE to victory in the Group Three Virgin Bet St Simon Stakes (2.35) at Newbury. He is off to the sales in Newmarket next week to begin a new chapter in his illustrious career.
He was the horse that got my association with Imad Alsagar off to the best possible start in last season’s Rose Of Lancaster Strakes at Haydock, another Group Three.
Since returning from Saudi Arabia in February he has not quite reproduced that level of form so we are on something of a revival mission, but if he can get back to his best he is more than capable of a memorable swansong on ground he should enjoy.
Rockfel fourth looks well placed
Roger Charlton’s filly JUMBLY ran a smashing race in the Group Two Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket last month on only her third career start so I am full of expectation in the Listed Galloping To Give 10 Years With A Transplant Stakes (3.10) at Newbury.
She stuck to her task really bravely and finished the race off on the front foot, even though she was taking a big hike up in class.
Jumbly is the clear top-rated contender in what used to be the Radley Stakes so looks well placed to gain some valuable Black Type before hopefully stepping back up into Group company next year.
Ease in Grade a help to Gisburn
Six furlongs at Newbury is a proven formula for Richard Hannon’s colt GISBURN who may appreciate returning to calmer waters in the Mildmay Farm & Stud Nursery Handicap (1.25) on Saturday.
The son of Ribchester has been highly tried since bolting up by over six lengths in that early-season maiden, finishing out the back in the Group Two Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot before returning from a break to beat only two home in Listed company at York.
His win came on good to soft ground so while he clearly appreciates some juice underfoot I am not sure how he will cope with the heavy conditions following a midweek deluge at the Berkshire track.
RIKONA makes her debut for Roger Charlton and my boss Imad Alsagar in division two of the Conundrum Consulting EBF Fillies’ Novice Stakes (4.15). I have never ridden her at home but we’ll see what she is capable of producing on her first day at school.
Tom Ward’s had a good season so LUISA CASATI should go well in the closing Horris Hill Handicap (4.50). She won her novice on soft ground at Lingfield and was not disgraced when trying to make all in Listed company in France last time. She didn’t seem to get home over that longer trip but dropping back in distance on her handicap debut makes her of serious interest.
Fast Track winner Cowboy a smart prospect
Winning the first Fast Track Qualifier of the new All-Weather season at Newcastle on Tuesday gave me a lot of satisfaction. SPACE COWBOY stepped up on his Wolverhampton maiden win to make every yard of the running and gain automatic entry into the three-year-old final over the same six furlong on Good Friday.
It was not my intention to set the pace but he jumped well and settled into a lovely rhythm. Richard has one eye on the Group One Commonwealth Cup next season so options are certainly open if he can progress again.
My three winners in the opening two days of the new season have taken me to another landmark. I now have 151 on the board which equals last year’s personal best.
It is always been my aim to beat it since the start of the year so it will be a relief to get the next one – hopefully on Friday.
Hollie Doyle was talking to Sky Sports Racing’s Simon Mapletoft