It has already been a season of firsts for Hollie Doyle and the jockey of the moment will break new ground again on Friday, when she will take her first ride for Aidan O’Brien – replacing his stable jockey, Ryan Moore – in a $150,000 race on the Breeders’ Cup undercard, shortly before making her Breeders’ Cup debut on Mighty Gurkha in the Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Moore was initially booked to ride Order Of Australia in the Bryan Station Stakes for three-year-olds, the third race on the card at Keeneland on Friday, but O’Brien’s colt is set to carry 8st 6lb, which is Moore’s lowest riding weight over the last six months.
As a result, the mount has passed to Doyle, a rider who has seized every fresh opportunity with both hands in recent months. She chalked up her first Royal Ascot winner in June, broke her own record for the most winners for a female rider in a year and also rode a double on Champions Day at Ascot last month including her first Group One win on Glen Shiel.
Doyle’s only previous experience of an American circuit, however, has come from riding trackwork at Santa Anita, and the ride on Order Of Australia, who is drawn nine in a field of 14, will be a useful introduction to the pace and tactics of racing around Keeneland’s tight turf course.
Doyle’s main assignment on the day will arrive less than two hours later, when she will confront a tricky draw in stall one for the Juvenile Turf Sprint, tight against the rail, aboard Archie Watson’s Mighty Gurkha. The outsider of the field at around 25-1, Mighty Gurkha finished well beaten on heavy ground on his most recent outing at Newmarket, but was fifth in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot in June on a quicker surface, more akin to what he can expect to encounter on Friday.
Mighty Gurkha is one of three European-trained challengers for the race, alongside Nigel Tinkler’s Ubettabelieveit and O’Brien’s colt Lippizaner. The likely favourite is Golden Pal, one of four runners in the race trained by Wesley Ward, a close second behind The Lir Jet in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.