Author: Duane Fonseca
As far as James Doyle is concerned, U-bends for him were always going to be the far straight of the home stretch and a right or lefthanded curve in between. He may have flippantly once admitted to having signed up for a plumbing course due to a block in his fortunes in the saddle, but Doyle is well past all of that and he is counted among the best riders, not just in Britain, but the world. “I have to pinch myself sometimes but it’s what I aspired to do so I am really enjoying life and making sure I take it all in,” Doyle said. Born into a family with firm roots in racing, it was natural for Doyle to take up riding after his trainer mum Jacqui and jockey sister Sophie.
He attained his riding licence aged 16 in 2004 and after a few good years found rides hard to come by, which is when he started to consider alternatives. The block in his fortunes was unclogged on Dubai World Cup night in 2012 when he rode the Roger Charlton-schooled Cityscape to his first top tier victory in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free. That brilliant four and a half length success set his career back on track and he has added a further 28 Group Ones to his CV, including his most recent win in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield in Australia aboard Jungle Cat, trained by Charlie Appleby.
It was his seventh for the year, a run which started with him winning the Group 1 Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday aboard another Appleby-trained runner, Blair House and later the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint with Jungle Cat. Dubai set him off on a brilliant 2018 and Doyle is now considered one of those top jockeys wanted to ride in the top races around the world. “I won’t say I have set myself any definite targets but just competing in the European season and being asked to ride and be available to compete in the Group Ones around the world is what you want to do really,” Doyle said. “You see the likes of Ryan Moore doing so much travelling and that’s what it’s all about nowadays. I was lucky to be able to go and ride Jungle Cat in Australia which was good and he was able to get his head in front which made the trip worthwhile.
It just projects you to a wider sort of audience which is the main aim I guess.” Wintering in Dubai is perfect to start the year according to Doyle, who has one win in seven rides at the ongoing Dubai World Cup Carnival after Appleby-schooled Good Fortune’s success in a handicap contest last Thursday. “It works quite well for us in Dubai in the sense that you have a lot of travelling throughout the season and a few foreign trips to America and Australia. So it’s quite nice to come here and wind down a bit and obviously you’re doing quite a lot of riding here as well and race riding once a week on a good card. Besides that you’re in the gym most of the days and take a bit of down time and then get back to it so it does work quite well,” Doyle said.
With Appleby bringing a good string to Dubai for the carnival, Doyle is relishing the prospect of riding many more winners over the next few months. “I’ve been fortunate enough to ride quite a few of them back home in England at some point of time in their career,” he said. One of those is Loxley, aboard whom Doyle was triumphant in the Listed Prix Nureyev at Deauville in August. “For me I think one of those that stands out is Loxley. He’s quite an exciting horse, whom I’ve ridden over in France and he’s been running well. He can be quite competitive out here in similar races with the Gold Cup perhaps his main target.”