James Doyle is one of the leading lights of the weighing room and firmly established as a key part of both Godolphin and the William Haggas operations.
Doyle came close to Classic success last weekend on Skardu in the 2,000 Guineas and aims to enhance the Epsom Classic claims of two horses competing on the Racebets-backed card at Lingfield on Saturday.
We spoke to Doyle about his big Saturday rides, got the latest on plans for Skardu and asked his views on the successes his sister Sophie is having in the USA.
Frankellina steps up in class to contest the Racebets Lingfield Oaks Trial. What did you make of her one run so far?
She’s not a filly I know I huge amount about really, but she’s one I’m looking forward to riding. William [Haggas] isn’t the sort of trainer who has them fully wound up for their debuts so to go and win first time up is notable. Harry Bentley rode her on her debut and I know he liked her.
And what do you make of her prospects on Saturday?
You would have hoped the form would have worked out a bit better but you can only beat what is put in front of you and she did that. She must have been showing up well in her work at home for William and Mr Oppenheimer to go for this race, so that’s encouraging.
Pablo Escobarr is your ride in the Racebets Derby Trial. How do you think he will get on?
It was good to see the form working out reasonably well with Living Legend’s run at Chester on Thursday and we know he’s going to stay, which is always a plus too. It’s a little bit of a fact-finding mission to help us explore what to do with him for the rest of the season but I’d like to think he can run a good race.
Pretty Baby was progressive last season and lines up in the Racebets Chartwell Stakes. Do you think she can score again?
The draw is a bit of a pain as we’re out in the centre of the track in stall one. The easier ground will hopefully mean the rail advantage isn’t quite as much as a problem for us, but I’d rather be drawn better with her. She had a really good season last year and hopefully she can pick that up this year. She certainly a nice filly to look forward to.
Last weekend you rode Skardu to finish third in the 2,000 Guineas. What did you make of that performance?
I was very pleased with him. He beat everything around him and did it well. Being drawn low as I was I never had the option to come across and I didn’t see the others on the stands’ side rail until about half a furlong from the end. It was a good performance nevertheless.
And where do you think Skardu is likely to run next?
He’s come out of the race well and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season with him. I’m not entirely sure what the plans are but I know the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot was mentioned and that makes a lot of sense. Whether he goes to Ireland in between I don’t know, but he’s a very talented horse for sure.
You rode Auxerre to an impressive victory in the Lincoln. What do you make of his chances in the Listed Royal Windsor Stakes on Monday?
I haven’t actually seen him since he won at Doncaster, but he was seriously impressive that day. He wasn’t put up a huge amount by the handicapper after that win, so in theory we could have gone for another handicap with him but Charlie [Appleby] is keen to try him at Listed level. The race at Windsor on Monday looks the right race to do that in.
Your sister Sophie rode Street Band in the Kentucky Oaks last week. Where you watching and cheering her on?
Absolutely! It was a shame as the horse blew up a little with the pre-race parades. She still ran a very good race to be sixth and Sophie got plenty of coverage for it, which is good for her and will hopefully allow her to get more opportunities.
And Sophie has made a good career for herself since moving to the USA. What did you make of the decision to leave Britain?
She’s in Chicago now and she smashed it when she was riding there last year. Fair play to her for having the guts to do something about her career and make the big step to go out to America. It’s worked out work and I don’t think she’ll be coming back any time soon.