Hollie Doyle gets back on board Trueshan and Glen Shiel as she looks to repeat last season’s double on Qipco British Champions Day.
Sky Sports Racing ambassador Hollie Doyle hopes to end another memorable season in style on Qipco British Champions Day on Saturday as the two horses that put her on the map at Ascot 12 months ago – Trueshan and Glen Shiel – return to defend their crowns.
Hero Trueshan ready for hat-trick bid
My hero TRUESHAN has everything in his favour in his bid to repeat last season’s unforgettable victory in the Group Two Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup (1.25) at Ascot.
He looked better than ever when demolishing a strong field including Stradivarius in the Group One Qatar Prix du Cadran on Arc weekend and has come out of that race in flying form.
Trueshan thrives on the easy ground he’ll get at Ascot and it’s a great feeling to be back on him just two weeks after missing out on that amazing performance through suspension.
Now a dual Group One winner, Alan King’s five-year-old seems to be reaching new peaks with every run. He’s a versatile, uncomplicated horse as he proved at Longchamp and when winning the Group One Goodwood Cup.
It goes without saying that Stradivarius is the obvious danger. He’s a legend in the true sense of the word and can never be under-estimated, even though my lad beat him emphatically last time and on Champions’ Day last year.
William Haggas’s Hamish is interesting. He comes to the race fresh and will also like the ground, though Trueshan beat him fairly and squarely in a conditions race at Newbury when they last met two years ago before taking his form to the highest level.
Headgear may be key to Glen Shiel revival
GLEN SHIEL, the horse who gave me my first ever Group One victory in the most dramatic circumstances, returns to the scene of that last-gasp triumph when he defends his crown in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes (2.00) at Ascot.
His trainer Archie Watson has declared him in blinkers for the first time in the hope of sharpening him up for a wide-open renewal.
A seven-year-old now, Glen’s a very laid-back individual who has become a bit lazy, but still possesses plenty of ability.
Indeed, a repeat of his second in testing ground in the Diamond Jubilee over the same course and distance back in June would be good enough to win this.
Dream Of Dreams, who beat him only narrowly that day, and this season’s July Cup winner Starman have both been retired so I’m not overly worried about the opposition.
It’s all about the way Glen acquits himself on the day. He’s still one of the top-rated runners in the line-up, has his favoured conditions and simply loves Ascot.
I wouldn’t have minded being drawn a bit higher but at least I’ll be racing away from two of the key pace angles in Art Power and Highfield Princess, which should allow me to do my own thing from over on the far side.
Glen looked in great shape when I saw him at Archie’s this week so I’m naturally hopeful of another big performance, particularly if the headgear has the desired effect.
Excited about latest O’Brien link up
One of the highlights of my season has been the opportunity to ride for Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore at some of the big meetings so I’m really excited to be back on board LA JOCONDE in the Group One Qipco British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes (3.25) at Ascot.
This will be the third time I’ve ridden the daughter of Frankel, who made the running for Ballydoyle’s star filly Snowfall in the Yorkshire Oaks and the Prix Vermeille.
She stuck on gamely to finish third in both those top-level races, proving what a capable filly she is, so I’m hopeful I can use her high cruising speed to keep up a good tempo and finish in the mix with the likely favourite Snowfall.
Teal’s Warrior back to form in nick of time
Roger Teal’s KENZAI WARRIOR couldn’t have rediscovered his form at a better time and can out-run his big odds in the closing Balmoral Handicap (4.30) over Ascot’s straight mile.
He gets into the valuable contest after incurring a penalty for his win on the All-Weather at Kempton Park last month and will appreciate the ease in the ground.
Kenzai Warrior was smart enough to win the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes at Newmarket in heavy going at two, but it’s taken Roger a long time to get him back to something like his best. Fingers crossed for a big run.
Addeybb may be tough to pass in Champion
I’m rooting for William Haggas’s globe-trotting star ADDEYBB in the Qipco Champion Stakes (3.25), as he’ll be ridden as usual by my fiancé Tom (Marquand).
But Tom aside, I genuinely think he’ll be tough to peg back over his optimum trip on ground that brings the best out of him.
Addeybb won this in the grittiest fashion last year and has the credentials to get the better of his illustrious rivals Mishriff and Adayar over this 10f in a classic renewal.
Stick with Pier in QEII
Another mouth-watering duel will be served up in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (3.10), which brings together Europe’s top miler PALACE PIER and the young pretender Baaeed, who puts an unbeaten record on the line.
John and Thady Gosden’s superstar Palace Pier must concede three pounds to his younger rival, but doesn’t have any chinks in his armour and is impossible to oppose on what looks a perfect stage.
Baaeed has all the hallmarks of a champion – he’s a Group 1 winner now – and I’d like to see him win for the Haggas team, but he faces the ultimate test.
Group One win my season’s highlight
As another Flat season reaches its official climax, I can look back with a lot of satisfaction, hoping I have another chapter or two still to add.
My Group One win in the Qatar Goodwood Cup on Trueshan was the obvious highlight, but my Royal Ascot win on Amtiyaz for my boss Imad Alsagar was very special.
I’m delighted to be sitting fifth in the jockeys’ table going into Champions Day, with 86 winners from close on 600 rides.
My prize money of over £1.6m has surpassed last season’s total, too.
After Saturday, I’ll be keeping busy on the All-Weather all winter, but I’m looking forward to riding at some of the big meetings overseas in the new year.
Hollie Doyle was talking to Sky Sports Racing’s Simon Mapletoft
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