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Hollie Doyle blog: Cheering fiancé Tom Marquand in the Derby on Youth Spirit and Musselburgh hopes

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Hollie Doyle rode in her Classic on Friday, finishing ninth in the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom; Doyle heads to Musselburgh for three rides on Saturday, while fiancé Tom Marquand rides Youth Spirit in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom

Just hours after her history-making first ever ride in a Classic, Sky Sports racing ambassador Hollie Doyle travels up to Musselburgh for three rides – with one eye very much on the Cazoo Derby at Epsom!

Although my first ride in a Classic didn’t end in glory, I’m delighted to have ridden a double on Archie Watson’s MEHMENTO and Epsom trainer Simon Dow’s CORAZON ESPINADO.

I expected Mehmento to show what a good little horse he is and never had an anxious moment in the Listed Surrey Stakes.

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My only concern was the rain-softened ground, but he handled it brilliantly and can hopefully give his owners Hambleton Racing a great day out at Royal Ascot, along with their star Glen Shiel.

Archie has him in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup but now he’s proven himself over 7f the Group 3 Jersey Stakes will have to come into consideration.

Hollie Doyle on board Corazon Espinado after victory at Epsom

Winning for Simon Dow on Corazon Espinado was a pleasant surprise. I feared the trip might stretch him but he loves the track was it was lovely to get a local trainer in the winner’s enclosure on a big day.

It wasn’t to be for SHERBET LEMON in the Oaks, but she wasn’t disgraced. I was feeling quite optimistic when the rain came and was delighted to get a prominent position from that wide draw but was always in top gear and feared I’d get swallowed up when the pace lifted. She’s a lovely filly who still has a bright future in Pattern company so there’ll be another day for her.

Doyle rides Mehmento to victory in the Surrey Stakes at Epsom

Long journey north in quest for black type

I’ve always maintained that I’m happy to travel anywhere for a winner so I’m hoping to make the marathon trip to Musselburgh on Saturday a worthwhile one. I’m heading over the border to ride BREATH OF JOY for my boss Imad Alsagar in the Listed Maggie Dickson Stakes (4.00).

It’s a big ask to win the 7f feature off an official rating of 90, as she’s wrong at the weights with key rivals including Richard Fahey’s Ventura Diamond, but if we can at least finish in the first three and earn some valuable Black Type for the paddocks it will be mission accomplished.

Trained by Amy Murphy, my filly has run consistently well and should have won at Chelmsford City last time but I got too far back and had to challenge out wide. She should be happy on the track and is nicely drawn in stall four.

Happy to be in Johnston team for big race raid

I’m on one of three runners from the Mark Johnston stable in Musselburgh’s feature handicap on Saturday, the Edinburgh Cup (3.25).

ANNANDALE had won three of his five races before running well below his best when sent off favourite at Newbury last month but won on a sounder surface at Nottingham previously and a return to better ground should help.

Mark’s horses are notoriously tough and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him bounce back, but the Middleham ace also holds every chance with Nottingham winner Glen Again and appropriately named bottom weight Baileys Derbyday in a six-runner race.

Drop in grade a positive for Fell veteran
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It’s nice to link up again with Yorkshire trainer Roger Fell at Musselburgh on Saturday. I’ve ridden a couple of winners for him from only a handful of rides but hope to add to the tally on his admirable MUNTABAD in the 7f handicap (2.15).

Though he’s a veteran now at the age of nine, he’s shown he retains plenty of ability this year and is a course and distance winner, too. He ran well at Beverley last time and this represents a drop in class.

Tom Marquand and Hollie Doyle walk the Epsom course ahead of Oaks day

Derby hope Leeper is something special

Naturally I’m keeping everything crossed for my fiancé Tom Marquand, who rides YOUTH SPIRIT in the Cazoo Derby (4.30) at Epsom on Saturday, and I’ll be shouting him on from afar.

It would be wonderful to see Tom win such an iconic race for owner, Ahmad Al Shaikh, who has been very supportive of him. I can only imagine how excited he will be as we’ve both been so incredibly busy and just haven’t had the chance to discuss it. In fact, I’ve barely seen him in days!

Bolshoi Ballet ridden by Ryan Lee Moore

I know he was impressed with Youth Spirit when they won the Chester Vase, a recognised trial for the Derby, and Andrew Balding’s colt ticks plenty of the right boxes in what is in now a wide open renewal following Aidan O’Brien’s decision to declare only one horse.

Given the strength in depth at Ballydoyle, it was a big surprise to see only hot favourite Bolshoi Ballet representing him at the final declaration stage but that says plenty about the confidence behind the colt, who was unquestionably brilliant in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown.

Frankie Dettori bids for his third victory in the Derby on board John Leeper

I fully expect Ed Dunlop’s John Leeper to run a big race, even though he doesn’t have a great draw in stall 12. I won a novice stakes on him up at Newcastle at the end of April and instantly knew he was something special in the way he conducted himself and travelled through the race that day. He’s a very well-balanced colt who should cope well with the demands of Epsom, even though he is still inexperienced.

Don’t rule out William Haggas’s horse Mohaafeth, either, who would be an emotional winner in the silks of the late Hamdan Al Maktoum. This son of Frankel has progressed rapidly this year, winning all three starts and settling nicely in Listed company at Newmarket last time. He’s nicely drawn in stall four and bred to stay.

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Good opportunity for Outbox

Archie Watson’s stayer OUTBOX has been a model of consistency for his owners Hambleton Racing this year, winning at Wolverhampton and Doncaster, and looks to have been found a good opportunity in a conditions race at Leicester on Monday (2.30).

A mile and a half on quick ground should be fine for a gelding who has run well in Listed company the last twice and I’m looking forward to renewing the partnership if he’s declared. He also holds an entry in a 1m4f handicap at Pontefract on the same afternoon.

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