x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Doyle proves his worth at Meydan

James Doyle finished the day with a hat-trick at Meydan Racecourse, running his season tally to six as he continues to impress trainer Dhruba Selvaratnam in replacing regular jockey William Buick.

DUBAI // Before racing on Friday, James Doyle said he harboured quiet hopes of riding a fourth winner of the season.

By the time he had finished his six-race afternoon stint at Meydan Racecourse, the 23 year old had landed a treble to boost his seasonal tally to six.

Doyle, based at Jebel Ali Stable under Dhruba Selvaratnam, is only in the UAE as a stand-in for William Buick, the trainer's regular jockey.

Buick is entering his third season as rider for the successful long-time trainer-owner partnership of Selvaratnam and Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid. But he has been delayed in England as he completes the European season for his other boss, the English trainer John Gosden.

Buick may be regretting the delay now as his friend and colleague Doyle, whom Buick recommended, clocks up the winners.

"It's a very nice surprise to ride a triple," said Doyle, who kicked off his winning streak with a length-and-a-half victory aboard Mortbet in the Dh70,000, 1,200-metre handicap.

Doyle rode 76 winners during his English season before being invited to Jebel Ali by Selvaratnam.

Doyle and Selvaratnam followed up with victory from Canwinn in the Dh80,000 handicap and completed the hat-trick when UAE debutant Doon Kalal finished strongly to win by a length.

“It was a rough old race at the start,” said Doyle, who also finished third in the feature race on Kal Barg, another Selvaratnam inmate. “I thought to keep him covered up at first, but it was too rough. He finished very well and made up ground on the leaders really well once I asked him to go.”

Selvaratnam, who trains on the dirt track at Jebel Ali as opposed to Meydan Racecourse's Tapeta, said he tried to get his charges as fit as possible for the start of the season.

"You have to when they are coming to race here because the season is so short, you need to get them into races as soon as possible," said Selvaratnam, who is second in the trainers' championship with six wins. Ali Rashid Al Raihe, who claimed the feature race with Rochdale, leads with 12.

"They should still come on for these runs, though, and will back up well," Selvaratnam said. "I'm very pleased with my appointment of James. He has ridden very well."

Asked whether Buick should be getting a worried, Selvaratnam laughed and said: "No, he's safe."