Dubai: It has been six years since Cityscape and James Doyle careered headlong into the racing world’s spotlight when they claimed a landmark victory in the $6 million Dubai Duty Free for Prince Khalid Abdullah of Juddmonte Farms and trainer Roger Charlton.
On that memorable night, under the spotlights of Meydan, James came of age and finally recognised as a world-class rider by his peers. He had never before taken part in a Group 1 race yet there he was, cool and relaxed, confident in his own skills and the ability and bravery of the big white faced horse.
From that day, racing pundits, trainers and owners alike realised the ‘The Doyler’ was a force to be reckoned with, this handsome and personable young man, who had honed his skills around England’s all-weather racetracks during several winters, a street fighter who’s ghetto’s were Lingfield, Wolverhampton and Kempton Park, areas where the smaller trainers with moderate and suspect natured animals earned their bread and butter.
It was a good schooling ground and will always stand James in good stead, though not where he envisaged spending every winter. After the pinnacle of Cityscape, finally trainers other than Sylvester Kirk and Roger Charlton were convinced that a star had ascended in the shape of long-legged and lean Doyle.
As with most successful sportspersons, the road to success can sometimes get a little bumpy and the but a steady, consistent hand doing the steering will bring the journey back on course — as has happened with James.
Saturday night witnessed a fantastically competitive Al Quoz Sprint with high tension and drama before the runners even set off, with the favourite to give Charlie Appleby his long-awaited World Cup night first winner, Blue Point being withdrawn by the vets after a trickle of blood was spotted in a nostril.
James said afterwards: “ I was gutted for Will [Buick] as I know how hard he has worked with him and was so looking forward to riding him in this race. I was already in the gate at the time, so I did not know why or what had happened.”
Beforehand, it was ironic that Appleby had said “If Blue Point falters Jungle Cat will be there to pick up the pieces.”
He didn’t so much pick them up as grab them with both hands in a professional display of galloping straight and true to the line, the result never in doubt from maybe two furlongs out. Clearly emotional at breaking his World Cup night duck, Appleby said: “James gets on well with him and I am very proud of him, he’s now a Group 1 winner.”
James was equally full of pride in praise of his brave partner, saying: “You can set your clock by him, he’s fantastic.”
- Jacquie Doyle is a retired trainer and the mother of leading jockeys, James and Sophie Doyle.