Pocket rocket Hollie Doyle belongs in the big time after steering Bradsell to a to a decisive victory in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot
- Hollie Doyle steered Bradsell to a decisive victory in the Coventry Stakes
- The 8-1 shot finished a length and a half ahead of well-fancied Persian Force
- It was the third Royal Ascot victory for the 25-year-old female jockey
A huge roar grew as tiny Hollie Doyle steered 8-1 chance Bradsell to triumph at Royal Ascot, the perfect victory on a fizzing, popping day on these green acres of sun-baked Berkshire.
It was the crowd favourite’s third victory in as many editions of this ancient pageant and her most prestigious, from handicap on those previous two occasions to Group Two now, the Coventry Stakes. Isn’t life going nicely for Doyle, who at 5ft dead is small even in her business?
Success here came only three months after her wedding to childhood sweetheart, jockey Tom Marquand, whom she met during their Pony Club years in Herefordshire.
Hollie Doyle steered Bradsell to a decisive victory in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot
On a bigger stage than that, watched by Prince Charles in person and, no doubt, Her Majesty the Queen herself on TV up the road in Windsor Castle, the 25-year-old Doyle, rider of more winners than anyone in 2022, made her decisive move with a couple of furlongs of the six remaining.
Bradsell responded by poking his head with its white flash into the lead and sped away smoothly to put a length and a half on the rest of the field.
‘It was great to do it in front of a crowd,’ said Doyle, recognising the uplifting return of full stands after the Covid privations.
‘It was a different feeling from last time I won here. I was really struck by the roar of the crowd as we hit the front.
‘The further he goes the better, so I was not too worried when I committed. I knew he’d keep galloping.
The 8-1 shot finished a length and a half ahead of well-fancied Persian Force
‘His instant response surprised me as in his gallops he is a little bit lazy. He turns it on on the track, he hit the line hard and I struggled to pull him up after. On the back of this performance you would have to say the world is his oyster.’
That final remark was a nod to tackling the further big prizes here or in Ireland that Doyle craves as the next step in her mould-breaking journey towards, she hopes, riding a Classic winner. It is not a pipe dream as she has already achieved the best finish by a woman in a British Classic after coming third in the Oaks on Nashwa earlier in the month. Champion jockey one day? Well, that is tougher. How could she be expected to take on Will Buick with all Godolphin’s riches on offer?
The victory on day one, race two, after well-fancied Persian Force took the runner-up’s pain, was a real fillip given that her big hope, Trueshan, is likely to be ruled out of the Gold Cup. He needed softer going than the tin-roof he would likely face.
Bradsell’s Lambourn trainer Archie Watson said: ‘I was saying to my fiancee Brodie (Hampson) last night when I was looking through the race that anything able to win it by daylight would be a superstar, and that is exactly what he has gone and done.
The 25-year-old continued her successful year by securing her third Royal Ascot victory
‘I’m just delighted. This is the place everyone wants to have winners.’
Returning into the winners’ enclosure, Doyle was welcomed as generously as you would expect. She admits that occasionally her female status may attract extra attention and hype, but if so this was not an afternoon to grudge her one iota of happiness.
The whole day was about celebration. Last year there were only 12,000 allowed through the gates and it required a dratted PCR result even then. Now the throng is back — 42,239 on Tuesday in the mid-summer sunshine. There was a real buzz about the place. And for a few uproarious hours nobody was talking about a cost of living crisis except the one they might have been suffering at the hands of the bookies.
If there was a regret, it was the Queen’s absence, through her ongoing mobility problems. A spare seat was left in the front carriage where she would have sat for the Royal Procession, alongside Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, and Peter Phillips the other side.
Her Majesty’s contribution was restricted to the programme notes. ‘I hope you all have an enjoyable and memorable time,’ she wrote.
Little Hollie honoured her sovereign’s instruction.