07 November 2020

Doyle put magical sheen on very different Flat season

07 November 2020

In a difficult year, Hollie Doyle has proved the shining star of the 2020 Flat season. Losing two months due to the Covid-19 lockdown ensured a hectic start to the campaign, but the best was arguably saved until last as Doyle – already riding the crest of a wave after another record-breaking season – finally enjoyed a breakthrough Group One win. We look back on 10 top moments from a far from typical year:

Queen of the turf – the human version

Glen Shiel (centre) gave Hollie Doyle her Group One breakthrough (PA Wire)

Glen Shiel’s victory in the British Champions Sprint on Champions Day really was the cherry on top of a fabulous season for Hollie Doyle. She has ticked off a couple of major milestones this term – a first Royal Ascot win, breaking her own record for winners in a year for a female rider and becoming the first woman to ride a five-timer – but her inaugural Group One win really was the pinnacle. You would have to think it is the first of many now that ceiling has been broken.

Queen of the turf – the equine version

Enable bowed out in October - but not before setting a new King George benchmark (PA Wire)

Enable may not have enjoyed a glorious swansong with an unprecedented third Arc win, but she did bring up a ground-breaking hat-trick in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July. A three-runner field hardly rates as a vintage renewal, but John Gosden’s supermare cantered home in splendid isolation to become the race’s first three-time winner and seal her position as one of the all-time greats.

Gold Cup king

Stradivarius joined an elite list as a three-times Gold Cup winner (PA Wire)

Not even an Ascot deluge could derail Stradivarius’ bid to become just the third horse to win the Gold Cup three times. The weather was miserable and there was barely a soul on course, but neither factor could diminish a 10-length demolition job for one of the best stayers of the modern era. Yeats’ record of four wins is now firmly in Stradivarius’ sights in 2021.

Pyle the pick

Pyledriver, rejected at the sales as a foal made his mark at Ascot (PA Wire)

Pyledriver provided the fairytale story of 2020 as a colt who failed to even sell for 10,000 guineas as a foal yet went on to scupper the likes of Aidan O’Brien with a Royal Ascot win. His 18-1 shock success in the King Edward VII Stakes gave William Muir and Martin Dwyer a fantastic day, while his Great Voltigeur win served to underline his inherent class. Third place in the St Leger also bodes well for next year.

Like father, like son

Oxted gave both Cieren Fallon and Roger Teal a landmark moment (PA Wire)

Cieren Fallon was already a name to follow after winning the champion apprentice title last year and life got even better as he bagged his first top-level win aboard Oxted in the July Cup. The Fallon name obviously carries plenty of expectation, but the way he delivered Roger Teal’s charge in the Newmarket prize showed skill aplenty. Another apprentice title and a second jockey role with Qatar Racing set the seal on a memorable campaign.

Speed demon

Battaash finally came home in front in the King's Stand Stakes (PA Wire)

Blue Point had proved a shade too good for Battaash in the two previous renewals of the King’s Stand Stakes, but with his nemesis in the breeding sheds, Charlie Hills’ sprinter finally enjoyed his Ascot moment. Making all, Battaash blasted his rivals to win untroubled by two and a quarter lengths, with a fourth King George Stakes at Goodwood and a hard-fought Nunthorpe success ensuring he went unbeaten this year.

Marquand’s moment

Tom Marquand with the St Leger trophy (PA Wire)

Tom Marquand cut a swathe through the Australian ranks during lockdown, claiming his first Group One wins aboard Addeybb, but circumstances conspired to allow him to register a first top-level success in Britain in the St Leger. Shane Crosse was due to ride Galileo Chrome at Doncaster, but a positive Covid-19 test saw him ruled out with Marquand – aka Mr Hollie Doyle and part of racing’s ‘golden couple’ – stepping in for the victory.

Love conquers all

Love proved to be the best three-year-old filly this year (PA Wire)

In a topsy-turvy year, it is perhaps hard to weigh up the Classic generation, but Love could well be the best of them all – even the colts. Her cosy 1000 Guineas success at Newmarket in June was supplemented by a jaw-dropping performance in the Oaks, strolling home by nine lengths at Epsom. Her five-length win in the Yorkshire Oaks proved her final start of the year and while the calibre of opposition could be questioned, Love looks likely to be one of next year’s stars.

Mohaather tops for Tregoning

Marcus Tregoning and Mohaather after winning the Qatar Sussex Stakes (PA Wire)

It had been a long time between drinks for Marcus Tregoning and while Mohaather was something of a shooting star through no fault of his own, his Sussex Stakes win was pure class. A real clash of titans with Queen Anne winner Circus Maximus, plus English and Irish 2000 Guineas winners Kameko and Siskin, in opposition, Mohaather was just far too good, displaying an electric turn of foot which sadly we will not see again due to injury.

Champers celebration

Champers Elysees struck Group One gold for Johnny Murtagh (PA Wire)

Champers Elysees was another fairytale story, graduating from a Curragh handicap win off a mark of 86 in June to a Matron Stakes victory and a perch of 115 by the end of the year. Her Group One triumph proved the pinnacle of Johnny Murtagh’s training career so far, with the for multiple Group One-winner rider joking it was nice to take home more than a free lunch from Leopardstown. Champers Elysees’ subsequent purchase by Teruya Yoshida puts Murtagh firmly in the big time now, and he can look forward to training for the Aga Khan and Coolmore going forward.

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