JAMES DOYLE is firmly established as one of the best and one of the most sought-after riders in the weighing room.
The Godolphin jockey already has a string of big-race successes to his name and will be seeking to add more to that list at Newmarket’s July festival, including on Dreamfield in the July Cup on Saturday.
We spoke to Doyle about his rides this week and got an update on some of the star names he has been associated with in 2018.
The three-day July festival kicks off on Thursday. What is it like riding close to home at Newmarket?
It’s handy for us as it’s just up the road and we tend to arrive there nice and fresh as there’s no travelling involved. A lot of the jockeys, trainers and horses are more relaxed during the week as a result. It’s a straightforward course to ride with the Dip not being as big as it is at the Rowley Mile. It’s an easy track and a good meeting to ride at.
Your biggest ride of the week is on Dreamfield in the July Cup. He was narrowly beaten in the Wokingham last time as the hot favourite, what did you make of that performance?
He was pretty impressive even though he was beaten at Royal Ascot. Both myself and Mr Gosden made it clear we thought he was a ridiculously short price, and he nearly made us look quite silly as he ran a mighty race. He did very well to get so close. He was drawn on the unfavourable part of the track on the far side and he had to race alone for much of the race as he had so much more speed than the other horses around him. He was inexperienced at the end and drifted over for some company, so he’ll have improved for that experience which should help him at Newmarket. It was a helluva run in the Wokingham, I thought.
The Wokingham is a handicap, the July Cup is a Group 1. How do you think he will handle the transition?
He needs to raise his game, on ratings anyway. Blue Point sets a very high standard and he’s the one we’re all going to have to try and beat. In our favour is the fact Mr Gosden is prepared to pitch him into a race like this. That suggests he’s seen something from him at home. It’s interesting and it’s exciting.
On Saturday you are also riding Blown By Wind in the Superlative Stakes. What do you make of his chances?
He ran well in the Coventry having got a bit further back than ideal. He was a good second, albeit a distant one, to Calyx on our side. He was okay when he won at Pontefract last time and I’ve spoken to his rider that day, Franny Norton, who felt the quick ground maybe wasn’t what he really wanted. That’s obviously a bit of a worry given we’ve had so little rain in Newmarket. I do think the step up in trip is going to be helpful to him.
Main Edition, who you won the Albany on, looks an exciting ride. Do you think she is the one to beat in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes on Friday?
I’m really looking forward to her. She had to do it all her own way at Ascot and she did it really well. La Pelosa had a good crack at her but we had plenty up our sleeve and won nicely in the end. I thought it was a good performance and I think she goes into Friday’s race as the one to beat.
You start the meeting off on Thursday with Caliburn in the Bahrain Trophy. How do you think he will get on?
The race fell apart for him the last day but he won really well and he gave me a nice feel in the process. He’s a lovely, straightforward horse and he showed me that he got the trip well that day. It’s a marginal step up so that’ll be fine as all he did was keep galloping on. He needs to step up on what he’s done but I think he can.
And of your other rides this week, who are you most looking forward to?
I think Roussel’s (3.00) an interesting runner on Thursday. He ran a nice race in the Commonwealth Cup when he was only beaten just over four lengths. He obviously drops down in grade for this so I think I can see him running a very good race. He’s always shown us a good bit at home.
While we have you, can we get your thoughts on some of your recent big-race winners – starting with Poet’s Word. What did you make of his Royal Ascot victory?
Things weren’t in Cracksman’s favour that day but we both drew a long way clear of Hawkbill in third, and he’s a dual Group 1 winner. I don’t see why he can’t go on and make a real impact in other big races through the rest of the season. He was knocking on the door in those sort of races before the breakthrough and he looks to have stepped forward again, as Sir Michael Stoute’s horses so often do.
We have not seen Addeybb since he was beaten in the Lockinge Stakes. How are things with him?
The ground was against him at Newbury and there was a massive draw bias against him as well. I’d put a line through that performance and he’s shown how good he can be when the ground has some ease in it. Something like the QEII on Champions Day would be right up his street.
And, finally, what is the plan with Young Rascal, who was well-fancied but ultimately well-beaten in the Derby?
He wasn’t 100 per cent after the race but there wasn’t enough wrong with him to explain his performance entirely. We were caught quite wide and when you’re three horses wide and the others are close to the rail it makes life pretty difficult. He got stuck and didn’t get his act together, which was a surprise given how professional he was at Chester. I can’t wait to ride him again though. I’m not sure what the plan is with him – whether he goes for the Great Voltigeur next or the St Leger – but he’s a very talented horse.