While 2020 has been a year to forget for many, from a professional perspective it could not have gone any better for Hollie Doyle.
She was over in Hong Kong competing in the International Jockeys’ Championship, and in the fourth race of the contest the 24-year-old led the field home aboard Harmony N Blessed at the Happy Valley track.
The International Jockeys’ Championship is competed by 12 of the most in-demand riders on the planet, with points handed out based on performances in the individual races. At the end, an overall winner is declared, and on this occasion it was Zac Purton – the Hong Kong champion jockey – who prevailed over Joao Moreira.
Purton and Moreira were tied with one win and one second place each heading into the final race, and the former’s third place finish aboard the aptly-named Flying Bonus earned him the best party of £50,000 and the prestigious trophy.
Doyle finished tied for third with Alexis Badel, and reflected on a ‘unbelievable’ experience in the Far East.
“I knew I had a good chance on this horse, but you need a lot of things to go right. It’s a huge privilege for Tom [Marquand] and I to be asked after a great season and it’s icing on the cake! It’s absolutely unbelievable,” she said.
Doyle outmanoeuvred her fellow English jockeys William Buick and Ryan Moore, who finished further down the leaderboard despite second-place finishes in a race each.
|1st||Zac Purton||20 points|
|2nd||Joao Moreira||18 points|
|=3rd||Hollie Doyle||12 points|
|=3rd||Alexis Badel||12 points|
|=5th||Ryan Moore||6 points|
|=5th||William Buick||6 points|
|=7th||Karis Teetan||4 points|
|=7th||Pierre-Charles Boudot||4 points|
|=7th||Vincent Ho||4 points|
|10th||Tom Marquand||2 points|
|=11th||Mickael Barzalona||0 points|
|=11th||Neil Callan||0 points|
A Year She’ll Never Forget
For many of us, 2020 is a year that will take some forgetting! For Hollie Doyle, it might just be the zenith of her racing career.
She was a double winner at Royal Ascot back on British Champions Day – her maiden Group 1 triumphs, and broke her own record for most winners in a single season as a female jockey; a tally which took her to fourth in the Flat jockeys’ championship.
Her loyal backers were rewarded royally when she delivered a five-timer at Windsor in August, and if an incredible year could not get any better Doyle has since been nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
She will be hoping to end a decade-long drought to the last time racing had a winner at the end-of-year shindig. A.P. McCoy was in the saddle that day, but Doyle is modest enough not to consider herself a natural contender. “It is a huge privilege to be nominated for such an illustrious award,” she said.
“It’s hard to get my head around being nominated alongside the likes of Lewis Hamilton, but I’m really pleased that horse racing has been recognised alongside these sports.
“Racing can be in its own little bubble as such, so hopefully this might help to open the door to a wider audience.”
Doyle is a best price of 14/1 to prevail in the televised contest, which will take place on December 20, with Hamilton an odds-on favourite to win after landing his seventh F1 world title this year.
Other contenders include Ronnie O’Sullivan, who bagged his sixth world snooker crown in 2020, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury.