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Hollie Doyle making Future History

31 October 2023 Written by Lee Mottershead

Hollie Doyle will be rewriting the record books in this year's Lexus Melbourne Cup. Rest assured, it will not be a new experience for her.

Never before has an international female jockey ridden in Australia's most fabled sporting prize.

It is entirely fitting that the small in stature, but immensely powerful Doyle will be the one breaking new ground.

Having established herself as one of Flat racing's brightest stars on the home soil of Britain, she now seeks to make massive headlines on the other side of the world.

Prior to 2019, the biggest annual tally of winners for a British female jockey was Josephine Gordon's 106. Doyle smashed that in her breakthrough year, saluting on 116 occasions. She bettered her personal best in 2020 with 150 winners and bettered it again in 2021, ending the year with 172 victories. Increasingly, however, the 26-year-old's story has been one notable for quality as well as quantity.

Doyle's first Group 1 triumph came aboard Glen Shiel in the Qipco British Champions Sprint three years ago. That top-flight total has now risen to eight, three of them achieved this year on the back of regular allies Bradsell, Nashwa and Trueshan. In the 2023 British Flat jockeys' championship, which concluded on October 21, Doyle finished fifth. One place in front of her was Tom Marquand, who also happens to be his rival rider's husband.

The couple married in March 2022 having initially met when riding ponies as children. Due to the nature of racing in Britain, they will often be competing at different ends of the country on the same day, ships passing in the night outside of the sport's glitziest meetings, at which both are in demand. They got to spend a rare chunk of time together during the last northern hemisphere winter when completing a two-month spell in Japan. They then shared a bonus period in each other's company when at home together in February. Unfortunately, Doyle had a broken elbow and Marquand was recovering from a dislocated shoulder. That's what happens when one jockey marries another jockey.

They are not just a power couple. British racing's most famous mister and missus are also an immensely likeable couple. There is, however, no doubt it is Doyle who has the bigger public profile. 

In 2020 she was named Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year and voted into third place behind F1's Lewis Hamilton and soccer's Jordan Henderson in the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year competition. Aside from previous winner Sir Anthony McCoy, Frankie Dettori is the only other racing figure ever to have got on the Spoty podium. Doyle accomplished something even Lester Piggott never managed.

Since then, the momentum has been maintained impressively. Doyle is retained by owner Imad Al Sagar, aboard whose Nashwa she notched a famous first Classic success in the 2022 Prix de Diane. Once upon a time, the idea of a female jockey landing a major European Classic would have been scarcely believable. It is a measure of how firmly Doyle has established herself at the top table that her victory seemed perfectly normal.

Winning the Melbourne Cup would be different, although it is a sign of the respect Doyle is now held on an international level that Ciaron Maher and David Eustace have secured her services for Future History. What is beyond doubt is that if the horse is good enough, so, too, will be the jockey.

Doyle thrives on pressure, which bodes well for what awaits her in the race that stops a nation.

That nation is one Doyle's husband knows well - and with Marquand also due to be in action at Flemington, Doyle will be able to source some useful local advice from a rider known in the southern hemisphere as Aussie Tom. 

Depending on what happens on November's first Tuesday, we could soon start hearing plenty of references to Aussie Hollie.