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Hollie Doyle blog: Praying for rain to help July Cup hope Glen Shiel at Newmarket and frustrations in Ireland

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Hollie Doyle is reunited with Glen Shiel at Newmarket for the July Cup on Saturday; the pair won the Group One Champions Sprint Stakes at Ascot in October; Doyle flew back from Ireland on Friday after two disappointing results at Leopardstown

Sky Sports Racing ambassador Hollie Doyle talks through her five rides at Newmarket on Saturday, including a reunion with Group One star Glen Shiel in the feature July Cup.

Massive day at Newmarket for Watson stable

Saturday is a massive day for Archie Watson’s Saxon Gate Stables with not one but two leading contenders in the Group One Darley July Cup (4.20) at Newmarket – and I’m thrilled to be a part of the action.

I’m back on board my Champions’ Sprint hero GLEN SHIEL in the 6f showpiece, while champion jockey Oisin Murphy will be determined to set the record straight with Archie’s exciting three-year-old Dragon Symbol.

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It’s a measure of Archie’s progress that he has two strong chances in a Group One and there’s no doubt that both horses are capable of winning the race, despite its strength in depth.

Glen couldn’t come into the race in better form after his gallant second to Dream Of Dreams in the Group One Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot. He’s been ticking over nicely at home, without being asked any questions. He has his routine which Archie sticks to religiously and we haven’t done anything different with him in preparation for this.

Hollie Doyle will be reunited with Glen Shiel at Royal Ascot next week

It’s no secret that he’s a more effective horse with juice in the ground so I’m really hoping the rain they’ve forecast in Newmarket on Saturday morning materialises, and I’m happy enough with my high draw in stall 14.

Dragon Symbol was so unfortunate to lose the Group One Commonwealth Cup in the stewards’ room. I felt so sorry for Archie, Oisin and the horse’s owners, but he’s such a talented colt who can go on to prove himself a top class sprinter.

Whilst the going might be a question mark for Glen, Dragon Symbol must also prove himself on quicker ground at this level and is taking on the older horses for the first time. His big runs in the Group Two Sandy Lane and the Commonwealth were both in heavy conditions but he has won on good to firm and might show himself to be even better on a sounder surface.

Dangers in this race are aplenty, as you’d expect, and if it does remain on the quick side Ed Walker’s Starman will be the one we all have to beat. He’s a lovely big horse whose only blip came in the Champions’ Sprint behind Glen Shiel when the ground was much too testing for him.

Oxted returns to Newmarket to defend his July Cup crown

In-form Lord is up for the Cup

LORD RAPSCALLION has enough in his locker to give me a great ride in the bet365 Bunbury Cup (3.50) at Newmarket. He’s done nothing wrong this season, finishing second to July Cup contender Chil Chil before running well in a big handicap at Epsom and finishing fourth in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

That form has been franked by the winner Highfield Princess, who followed up in a Listed race at Chelmsford City last week. Stuart Williams’s gelding ran better than the placings suggest at Ascot as he was whacked across the nose with a rival’s whip but still had the courage to run on again for Marco Ghiani.

With an attitude like that he’ll thrive on the cut and thrust of this race and the handicapper’s given him a chance, leaving him on the same mark. On what he’s achieved without winning this year I do think he’s fairly treated.

Professional partner in fillies’ handicap
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I finished a close second on Richard Spencer’s three-year-old PROFESSIONAL WIDOW in a Newmarket maiden in the spring and unsurprisingly she’s since gone on to make a winning handicap debut at Nottingham.

Her latest run in the Sandringham on bottomless ground at Royal Ascot was respectable under the circumstances, but she can show herself in a much better light in the Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa Fillies’ Handicap (2.05).

She’s only got 8st 8lb and should be happy on the track. I also think the drop back to 7f will be fine for her as they should go a good gallop and she travels sweetly.

Doyle gets in the zone at Newmarket before a ride at the July Cup meeting on Friday

Signs are encouraging for Bell filly

Michael Bell’s filly BARENBOIM also carries a light weight in the 12f handicap (5.00) at Headquarters and has done enough in maiden and novice company to suggest she can make an impact.

She was second to Godolphin’s subsequent winner Al Waqidi at Wolverhampton on her last start in November and has since had a wind operation.

The Gredley family’s daughter of Golden Horn is bred to appreciate the step up in trip so Saturday’s race will be a good indicator of her progress off what looks to be a fair opening mark of 78.

Earlier, I’ll be on another fact-finding mission on William Muir and Chris Grassick’s debutant MIMI’S ODYSSEY in the 7f fillies’ maiden (1.30) at Newmarket. It will no doubt be a hot enough race but she has a nice pedigree so hopefully she can make an encouraging start.

‘Quick’ trip to Salisbury can prove fruitful

I round off a busy week with two rides at Salisbury on Sunday, including Denis Coakley’s NELL QUICKLY in the 10f fillies’ handicap (3.35).

I rode her to win a Chelmsford maiden in April and was back in the saddle for her next start in a Sandown handicap last month. She showed herself to be progressive there when finishing second to Sir Mark Prescott’s gelding Secret Box, staying on well over 10f on her turf debut.

The ground was good that day and with similar conditions expected at Salisbury I’m confident she can go one better against her own sex off just a 1lb higher mark.

Flying visit to Ireland ends in frustrations

I was full of expectation when I flew to Ireland on Thursday for two rides at Leopardstown but was disappointed to return on Friday with little to show for it.

Archie Watson’s filly SHERBET LEMON looked to have a solid chance in the Group Three Stanerra Stakes after her win in the Listed Lingfield Oaks Trial, but I was never comfortable the whole way round and finished last of six.

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Everything looked in place for a big run so we’ll just have to wait and see how she comes out of the race before we make any plans.

I had a favourite’s chance on Willie Mullins’ Baby Zeus in the ‘Nasrullah’ Premier Handicap but nothing went right in that race, either. I could never get into a decent position from a bad draw and he hung quite badly when I asked him a few questions up the home straight.

It certainly wasn’t my day but there’s been no time to dwell on it as your next ride comes up very quickly in this game. Hopefully, I’ll have something to smile about at Newmarket!

Hollie Doyle was talking to Sky Sports Racing’s Simon Mapletoft

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