James Doyle plays Kingmaker on Classic pretender

2,000 Guineas favourite puts big reputation on line at start of new era for Abdullah empire

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The Independent Online

James Doyle and his new employer hope to be in the game together for the long term, but the very first task for Khalid Abdullah’s jockey, two days after his appointment as retained rider was announced, will be to ensure that the owner’s prize juvenile colt Kingman does not put his future swiftly behind him at Sandown tomorrow afternoon.

Abdullah’s racing manager, Teddy Grimthorpe, believes Doyle’s new role as jockey for the owner’s British-trained horses is an indication that the Saudi prince intends to remain involved with British racing for the foreseeable future. Earlier this year news broke that Abdullah was looking to sell off some of his Juddmonte breeding empire, causing speculation that it could also signal a winding down of his racing operation.

“James has been a promising young rider and Prince Khalid is always looking to the future and I think the decision was taken with that in mind,” Grimthorpe told At The Races. “I think everybody got overexcited [when news of Juddmonte’s dispersal sale broke], everyone was putting two and two together and making different combinations. What Prince Khalid does with his bloodstock is entirely his decision and how he wants to run it. We’ve sold some very good horses in the past, both as fillies and as racehorses, so from that point of view nothing much has changed. As for the future, I’m sure he’s got plenty to think about and James is an indication that he intends to remain in the game.”

Kingman, an impressive winner of his only start at Newmarket nine weeks ago, on the strength of which he is favourite for next year’s 2,000 Guineas, faces three rivals in the Group Three Solario Stakes, two of them owned by Godolphin, whose Music Theory was himself a wide-margin winner on the July Course last time out.

Connections have been at pains to play down the hype Kingman has  attracted, as well as the immediate pressure on Doyle. “It is a big first ride, but that is what we all come in for,” Grimthorpe said. “It’s what James comes into the game for and what Prince Khalid is trying to breed horses for so it is certainly a pivotal moment.

“He is only a maiden [winner], and I think quite a few people have forgotten that. I’m right with [trainer] John [Gosden] on this, of course we hope he’s going to be a good horse but the three horses he’s running against have all got really good proven form and proven experience. We have to take it step by step and making him a great champion before he’s out of short pants is a bit premature.”

Even so, they will surely be disappointed if this half-brother to the stable’s smart three-year-old Remote cannot dispose of these rivals on the way to better things.

The principals in the 1,000 Guineas betting, Kiyoshi and Tapestry, meet in the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes tomorrow. The unbeaten Tapestry has displaced the Albany Stakes winner for favouritism in this contest and will certainly do the same in the Classic market if she prevails at the Curragh.

The King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Novellist runs in the Grosser Preis Von Baden at Baden-Baden tomorrow en route to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. “All is going well with the horse, I am happy with his work at home,” said his trainer, Andreas Wöhler. “It is a Group One on Sunday, but for us it is a prep race. This is not our main plan, we want him to be 100 per cent in five weeks’ time.”

With domestic fare low-key, the best bet may be at Sandown, where the well-drawn Tidal’s Baby (2.05) can continue on the upgrade. At Beverley, Tangerine Trees (2.30) could bounce back to form at a course where he has a good record, winning on his last two visits.