For a young jockey who seriously considered abandoning the saddle for the plumbing business three years ago there is now plenty in the pipeline. On Thursday, 25-year-old James Doyle's appointment as Khaled Abdullah's No 1 was announced; yesterday, on his first ride in the dream job, he made the perfect start by steering the exciting prospect Kingman, favourite for next year's 2,000 Guineas, to victory in the Solario Stakes.
It was a highly satisfactory running of Sandown's Group 3 contest on many levels. It marked the heady potential of a well-bred juvenile colt and the reward for endeavour by one of the most level-headed rising talents in the weighing room. And, not least for the racing public, a combination of the two brought a clear signal that the long-famous pink, green and white silks carried lately most prominently by Frankel will be around for some time to come.
Doyle bounced back last year from some thin campaigns to a seasonal best score of 80 domestic winners, a retainer with trainer Roger Charlton and a first Group 1 winner on that classy stable's Cityscape, owned by Abdullah. This year has brought three more top victories on the Charlton-trained Al Kazeem, a Royal Ascot treble, the Saudi Arabian prince's approbation and the opportunity to take his career to a new level on some of the bluest-blooded athletes in the game.
Kingman, trained by John Gosden, shot to the top of the Guineas market when he won a Newmarket maiden by six lengths on his debut in June and is generally 5-1 for the Classic after showing a smart change of gear to account for the much more experienced Emirates Flyer. "Relieved?" said Doyle after the 2‑7 shot's smooth two-length success, "no, I don't think that's the right word. Just happy. This is a lovely horse with a good attitude and seems to have the right credentials to be a top performer.
"The pace was a bit slow and I almost had to break his stride early. I wanted to get a lead – it was only his second run and he obviously hasn't much racing experience – but he was professional throughout and when I let him lengthen in the straight he put it to bed with the minimum of fuss."
The son of Invincible Spirit is likely to have his top-level test in next month's Dewhurst Stakes. "Today was part of his long education," said Abdullah's racing man- ager, Teddy Grimthorpe, "and we have to aim a bit higher now."
The colt, whose dam Zenda won a French Guineas and is a half-sister to Oasis Dream, is also prominent in the Derby betting but Epsom is at this stage not on his radar. "There's a lot of speed in his pedigree," added Grimthorpe, "and perhaps next year a mile, a mile and a quarter, might be his limit."
The hunt for next season's Classic stars continues this afternoon at the Curragh, where Doyle rides Rizeena for Clive Brittain in the Moyglare Stud Stakes. The favourite, though, for Ireland's top juvenile filly contest is the other British raider, the Charles Hill-trained Kiyoshi, with the Ballydoyle candidate Tapestry second choice. Another Aidan O'Brien inmate, the colt Great White Eagle, will put his 2,000 Guineas credentials on the line in a Group 3 contest. Like Kingman, he was an impressive debut maiden winner.
The focus today is on Baden Baden, where Germany's King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes hero Novelist begins his countdown to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on home soil against four rivals.
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