Dubai: James Doyle demonstrated yet again why he is such a genuinely good jockey. Put him on a horse with a heart and you can be sure he’ll do the rest for you.
Which was pretty much the case at Newmarket Racecourse in the UK on Wednesday when he rode an absolute blinder aboard Skardu to win the Group 3 Craven Stakes — traditionally a stepping stone to the 2000 Guineas and subsequent Classic races.
Patiently held up by his talented jockey for most part of the 1,600-metre trip, the three-year-old Shamardal colt was asked for his effort approaching the final furlong. And the response was immediate as Skardu switched gears to wear down the leader, Set Piece, ridden by Frankie Dettori, and hold on for a neck’s victory.
Royal Marine, the favourite trained by Saeed Bin Surour for Godolphin, looked very keen during the early stages of the contest before he began to do his best work approaching the line to finish fourth for Christophe Soumillon.
Winning handler William Haggas confirmed that the 2000 Guineas would be the natural progression for a horse that he confessed he did not think too highly of.
“We were not really expecting too much from him but we were hopeful coming here,” he told Racing UK.
“I was quite pleased with him, but I don’t know what the form is like. He had a nice race and relaxed well. He showed a nice turn of foot and won.
“He has gone from a maiden to a Group Three, so hopefully there is a bit more in him. He doesn’t do a lot at home. I think we can get a bit excited.
“James knows Charlie’s (Appleby Zakouski) horse very well and he said he is a pretty smart horse and he didn’t run his race today. I’m highly delighted. If all things are equal he will be running (in the Guineas).
The last horse to complete the Craven-2000 Guineas double was Haafhd in 2004.
Doyle is no stranger to success in the Guineas having landed the colt’s Classic in 2013 with Kingsman.
Meanwhile, there was a victory for a horse with a Dubai connection when the Shaikh Mohammad Obaid Al Maktoum-owned UAE Jewel won the Wood Ditton Maiden Stakes on the same card.
The Roger Varian-trained son of Dubawi, who holds an entry in next month’s Dante Stakes at York, comfortably defeated Al Hadeer by five lengths.
Varian said: “We liked him all last year. He is a big horse and we just took our time with him, but then he had sore shins in the autumn.
“He has been training well all spring, you never know how they are going to do coming into Wood Ditton, but you hope they run well.
“We felt from his home work that a mile would be the perfect trip to start him over. He is a lengthener and two down it took him time to get on top of the horse that led,” he added.
“Over the last half a furlong he lengthened away well. We will possibly look at the Newmarket Stakes back here on Guineas weekend, which is a Listed race over 10 furlongs.”