Sky Sports Racing ambassador Hollie Doyle could be on the cusp of the biggest weekend of her burgeoning career as she rides favorites Nashwa and The Platinum Queen at the Breeders’ Cup in Keeneland.
Nashwa ready for date with fate
Riding two favorites at this year’s Breeders’ Cup is beyond my wildest dreams. In fact, it’s mental! The excitement along the track at Keeneland is on a different scale and it was a great buzz to be there early Thursday morning to post my Oaks heroine NASHWA through her hallway.
I gave her a breeze on the training track next to Frankie Dettori on Mishriff, just to get them used to switching leads and going left-handed, and both horses stretched out nicely, which pleased their trainer John Gosden.
It was a great opportunity for me to get a sense of the place after a long flight from Japan. It took 11 hours from Tokyo to Chicago and then another four hours to Lexington. Plus, there’s a 13-hour time difference to get used to, but after a quiet day of rest on Wednesday, the adrenaline started pumping quickly.
Everything seems in place for Nashwa to ride a big race in first class Makers Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Filly Grass (5.50) on Saturday. John and Thady (Gosden) prepared her perfectly, as you would expect, and I’m looking forward to her proud owner Imad Alsagar arriving Friday morning to soak up the atmosphere.
The good ground should be suitable for my filly and although it is a tight track the corners are quite big – and we have a nice draw in stable 3. It will be absolutely necessary to jump well and get good early position, and after that I hope her class will tell.
Wide draw a challenge for The Platinum Queen
THE PLATINUM QUEEN has already written her name in the record books after becoming the first two-year-old to win the Prix de l’Abbaye since 1978, but Friday night she could be on the cusp of something even bigger.
Middleham Park’s flying filly is a deservedly favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (7.00) and, like Nashwa, she has taken to flight and adapted to following the trail in her stride.
Her wide draw in Stable 12 isn’t ideal, but as her trainer Richard Fahey says, the sweeping turns should help her. The American horses drawn into her are lightning fast from the gates so we have to jump well, but she herself is blessed with a blinding natural speed.
Winning the Abbaye on Cotai Glory’s daughter was one of the highlights of my career and it was a thrill to finish second to her in the Nunthorpe as well. The fact that she has run against older sprinters with such an accolade must be to her advantage – we just need some luck at night.
Flotus well drawn in red-hot Turf Sprint
It’s great to get the ride on Simon and Ed Crisford’s filly FLOTUS in the first class Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (4.29) on Saturday – one of the most exciting races of the night.
She is well signed in stable 2 but will need to be sharper than she was in the Abbaye to make strides with some brilliant sprinters including Highfield Princess.
Jason Hart, who rides John Quinn’s remarkable filly, is a good friend of mine and if Flotus can’t surprise, I’d love to see him go home as the Breeders’ Cup winner. He had never ridden a Group 1 winner, until in the summer she picked up the Maurice de Gheest for him and two soon followed at the Nunthorpe in York and the Flying Five in Ireland.
The two of us planned to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the track by visiting Coolmore’s breeding facility on a Thursday afternoon, which I was really looking forward to.
Mishriff among strong European contingent in Turf
It would be emotional if Nashwa’s stable companion Mishriff could make it to the canvas for a stellar career with a major performance in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (8.40).
John (Gosden) seems happy with his preparation and he looked good for Frankie on the training track next to me on Thursday morning. However, it seems Charlie Appleby holds the key to the race with both Nations Pride and Rebel’s Romance, both of which have won on the international stage.
Nations Pride has American form on his resume, most notably winning the Saratoga Derby under its great race jockey William Buick in August, but I’d love to see James Doyle ride a Breeders’ Cup winner after a frustrating time last year.
Rebel’s Romance won a Group One in Germany in preparation for this and has a good draw in Stable 5 as he aims for a fifth consecutive win.
Undefeated Flightline all the fury
All the trackside talk on Thursday morning was about John Sadler’s undefeated colt Flightline, who will be all the rage in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (9.40).
I haven’t seen him in person, but saw a video of him at work on the track and he looks like a beautiful, imposing horse, whose remarkable Grade One wins at the Met at Belmont and the Pacific Classic at Del Mar seem to set him apart from his rivals.
Nonetheless, it’s going to be a great finale with Grade One Woodward Stakes hero Life Is Good and Travers Stakes winner Epicenter taking him in the shape of their lives. What a way to end what I hope will be a night to remember!
Sunday back to Japan
I’ll be flying back to Japan on Sunday to resume my two-month stint in Tokyo and I’m already looking forward to my next rides after getting the first taste of racing there last weekend.
I can’t wait to get that all important first winner on the board but I may have to be patient as they don’t race every day like we do in Britain.
The Japanese are very warm and friendly and have made both my husband Tom (Marquand) and I feel so welcome and valued. Hopefully a winner will make me even more popular!