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Hollie Doyle blog: How I thought I was winning the Dante and previews for Thirsk and Nottingham

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“When I almost slipped the field at the top of the straight I thought I might actually win it! He was travelling so well at that point that I was wondering where everyone was”; Hollie Doyle shares her pride after a call-up from Aidan O’Brien to ride Roman Empire at York


Sky Sports Racing’s ambassador Hollie Doyle previews her six rides at Thirsk on Saturday and looks ahead to her mounts at Nottingham on Tuesday.

The new Flat season promises to be my most exciting so far, so I’m delighted to be sharing my journey with you in my exclusive new blog.

I’ll be running the rule over my weekend rides and my best chances at our fantastic festivals this summer, as well as sharing my own thoughts on the star performers in all the big races. Today I’m looking ahead to a rare visit to Thirsk on Saturday and some nice chances for my boss Archie Watson at Nottingham in midweek.

Fox my stand-out on rare trip to Thirsk

I’m not a regular visitor to Thirsk but have ridden a few winners there and hope to add to my tally with six rides at the North Yorkshire track on Saturday, including the unexposed FOX DUTY FREE.

I’ve only ridden three times for his trainer Ralph Beckett but two of those rides were winners so I’m hoping to keep the good run going.

Fox Duty Free used to be a difficult character but was highly progressive on the All-Weather over the winter, rattling up a hat-trick. He was too keen for his own good when he returned from a break in the Mile Final on Good Friday but should go well in the Sporting Life Handicap (2.45).

Dropping back to 7f shouldn’t be a problem and though he hasn’t run on turf for a long time he did finish a close second in a novice race at York in similar conditions as a two-year-old.

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Saturday 15th May 12:45pm

Watson juveniles open to improvement

Archie Watson’s juveniles ACCACIA and DARK TERMS are both open to a fair bit of improvement in their respective races at Thirsk on Saturday.

Accacia, who runs in the first division of the 5f fillies’ maiden (12.30), was green at Nottingham on debut and needed the experience but she’s a speedy filly who should jump and travel much better this time.

A similar comment applies to Dark Terms, who runs in the second division (1.00). She is owned by Apple Tree Stud, whose Sherbet Lemon won last weekend’s Oaks Trial at Lingfield Park. I expect her to show what a quick filly she is with the benefit of that Newcastle debut behind her.

SKYTREE, the only runner at the track for William Haggas, steps up in trip in the 1m 4f novice stakes and should appreciate every yard of it. She’s very well bred so it’s important to get a win against her name and this looks an obvious opportunity.

I also ride the in-form HIJACKED for local trainer John Davies in the 6f handicap (4.30), who despite winning over course and distance on fast ground last month does have form in easier ground.

I’ve never ridden Mick Appleby’s ex-Irish gelding VOCATUS before but this lad is nicely drawn in stall three in the 1m handicap (2.10). It’s his first run of the season so he’s entitled to sharpen up, but Mick’s horses can always be relied upon to be fit and ready so I’m hopeful of another good run.

Hoping Exhibit can confirm promise on Nottingham debut

I head to Nottingham next Tuesday to ride some nice young horses for my boss Archie Watson, including newcomer TOP EXHIBIT

, an expensive purchase who is due to make his debut in the 6f maiden stakes (1.10).

He’s a lovely big colt by Showcasing who has been professional in his homework so I’m hoping he performs well enough to put himself in contention for one of the two-year-old races at Royal Ascot next month.

I’m also hoping ARCTIC EMPEROR and JUST FOR YUSE both get a run for Archie in the extended 1m median auction maiden, which could divide. Arctic Emperor’s run two nice races in defeat on the Southwell Fibresand and should appreciate the forecast soft ground after shaping well in similar conditions on debut at York in October.

Just For Yuse has only had one run – on the All-Weather at Wolverhampton last month – but showed enough that day to finish third for James Doyle despite being squeezed up by the winner. I’ve ridden him at home and expect him to build on that.

My Oberon can confirm progress in Lockinge

It’s hard to see hot favourite Palace Pier getting beaten in the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday (3.35). John and Thady Gosden’s colt has already proven himself the stand-out miler and has everything in his favour, including that all-important cut in the ground.

However, I do like my fiance Tom Marquand’s mount MY OBERON, who represents the in-form William Haggas stable and couldn’t have made a better start to his season by dominating where in mattered in the Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket.

He won’t be inconvenienced by the drop back to 1m – he’s already run two solid races in Group company at that distance – and, like Palace Pier, will enjoy the ease in the ground. He’s open to plenty of improvement and can definitely make his presence felt.

I thought I’d stolen the Dante!

Hollie and Roman Empire (far right) eventually finished fourth behind William Buick riding Hurricane Lane (blue)

Getting the call-up from Aidan O’Brien for ROMAN EMPIRE in the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dante Stakes at York on Thursday was a lovely surprise, but to get such a big run out of the colt was even more exciting.

The plan was always to make the running but when I almost slipped the field at the top of the straight I thought I might actually win it! He was travelling so well at that point that I was wondering where everyone was.

To his credit, he kept on once we’d been headed to finish fourth and confirmed himself a colt of some promise, despite his big odds. It was my first ride for Aidan and it meant a lot to be recognised by such a world-class team.

Hoping for a Royal Ascot repeat with Louganini

I enjoyed a memorable day at Royal Ascot last year when I achieved my first success at the meeting in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes on Scarlet Dragon, and I’m hoping history might repeat itself in next month’s renewal.

LOUGANINI’S clear-cut win in a 1m 4f handicap at the Berkshire track for me last weekend puts him in the frame for a possible crack at the same race. Roger Charlton’s done a great job with him – he’s thriving right now – and the Duke of Edinburgh looks the perfect target, as long as there is some juice in the ground.



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