PAT HEALY: This week Brand Ambassador Pat Healy talks up Hollie Doyle’s chances of becoming Champion Jockey, and shares his excitement at the prospect of Princess Zoe going for back-to-back Group 1 wins.
It was another great culmination of the British Flat season with Champions Day at Ascot. The main story, and rightfully so, was the success of Hollie Doyle and Tom Marquand who continue to amaze us all. It really is unreal stuff and you couldn’t make it up that Hollie would ride her first Group 1 winner and Tom would also notch one up too. For the couple to win four of the six races between them is fairytale stuff and it’s something that even John B. Keane wouldn’t write!
It’s great for racing because it projects it outside of the sports pages and it once again showed that Hollie is a top-class jockey. She continues to improve seemingly daily and if she can stay injury free as well as continuing to be given plenty of opportunities, there’s no reason why she can’t be Champion Jockey.
I missed not being able to be there as it’s a fantastic day. However, the way the ground is at this time of the year means we didn’t get all of the big-name horses turning up which was obviously disappointing. Take nothing away from Hollie and Tom’s achievements, though, and it’s definitely a meeting we always look forward to because it throws up these sort of stories.
Thrills And Spills
I’m really looking forward to be releasing our book Thrills And Spills for Christmas. It’s a lookback over the past decade in Jumps racing with lots of great moments from some of the big meetings like Cheltenham and Aintree. There are some really nice images too, so hopefully people will enjoy the little trip down memory lane.
It brought back loads of great memories and I won’t give too much away, but if there was one that stood out is was when Annie Power and Ruby Walsh fell at the final hurdle at Cheltenham. There’s a picture in the book that shows just how she had the unfortunate spill and it’s certainly a moment most of us will remember.
There are some really great young jockeys coming up through the ranks in Ireland, but the one I’ve been most impressed with is Siobhan Rutledge. She’s a top-class jockey and is one to keep an eye out for. She’s attached to John McConnell’s yard and, given their great form, Siobhan is reaping the rewards. I have no doubt that if she get the breaks, she’ll open people’s eyes to how good she is.
I’m sure I won’t be the only one looking forward to seeing Princess Zoe heading back over to France to try and win a second Group 1. Seamie Heffernan takes over in the saddle with Joey Sheridan suspended and having spoken to her trainer, Tony Mullins, she’s in arguably better form this time than she was for the Prix du Cadran on Arc weekend, so you’ve got to think she’ll take all the beating.
After her run on the weekend, they are going to have to make up their minds about whether they go hurdling with her, but reading between the lines, I get the impression that Tony would prefer not to go hurdling. I think that makes sense as there are so many races like the one in Saudi Arabia which she could go for and the prize money of those massively outweighs a novice hurdling campaign.