Hollie Doyle marks world jockeys’ challenge debut with winner

Hollie Doyle marks world jockeys’ challenge debut with winner

Hollie Doyle added a further chapter to the story of her breakthrough year on Wednesday when she became the first female rider to win a race at the valuable International Jockeys’ Championship in Hong Kong, beating her partner Tom Marquand into third place in the process. The victory on Harmony N Blessed, the 11-10 favourite, in the last event of the four-race challenge was enough to see Doyle finish joint-third in the overall standings.

Chantal Sutherland and Emma-Jayne Wilson had previously taken part in the Championship, the most valuable event of its kind in world racing, but neither could find a winner.

Doyle also struggled to make a mark in the first three races of the contest, finishing seventh, eighth and second-last on a series of big outsiders, but she made no mistake on Harmony N Blessed, breaking sharply and then driving for home just over a furlong out and holding on by three-quarters of a length from Grateful Heart, the mount of Ryan Moore.

Commenting on her achievement, Doyle said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable. I knew I had a good chance on this horse, but you need a lot of things to go right. It’s a huge privilege for Tom [Marquand] and I to be asked after a great season and it’s the icing on the cake!

“He jumped well, I didn’t have to ask much of him early on and he settled really nicely on the girths of the leader really nicely. The further I was going, the better.”

At the end of a year in which she has passed one milestone after another, Doyle fitted in seamlessly for her rides against some of the biggest names in world racing on Wednesday. In addition to Marquand, Moore and William Buick, who flew out with Doyle by private jet, France’s champion-elect Pierre Charles-Boudot, Mickael Barzalona and local stars Joao “Magic Man” Moreira and Zac Purton were all in action.

While Doyle missed out to Purton on the £50,000 first prize for the rider with the most points from placings in the four events, her win on Harmony N Blessed added another £100,000 to her total of win prize money in 2020, which now stands at just over £1.9m.

The next big moment in Doyle’s remarkable year will come in 11 days’ time when she will be one of six sportspeople on the shortlist for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year Award. Doyle is 20-1 with bookmakers to add the prestigious award to her cv, just weeks after being named Sportswoman of the Year by the Sunday Times.