x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

James Doyle and Cityscape record a four-and-a-half length victory

It is the biggest day of my life, says jockey after claiming first ever Group 1 victory

James Doyle, atop Cityscape, replaced regular rider William Buick and came out triumphant in the Dubai Duty Free.
James Doyle, atop Cityscape, replaced regular rider William Buick and came out triumphant in the Dubai Duty Free.

DUBAI // Cityscape lowered the course record at Meydan Racecourse last night to register a stunning victory in the Group 1 US$5 million (Dh18.4m) Dubai Duty Free.

Ridden by James Doyle, the six-year-old chestnut scooted off the home turn to post a four-and-a-half length victory over Mike de Kock's Mutahadee, who was ridden by Christophe Soumillon. Godolphin's City Style was third, while Ambitious Dragon finished the best of the Hong Kong runners, in seventh.

It was Doyle's first winner at the Group 1 level and as a result he will be invited to compete with some of the best jockeys in the world at the Shergar Cup at Ascot in the summer.

"When you are growing up and you tell everyone that you are going to be a jockey you dream about days like this," Doyle said.

"It's the biggest day of my life, without question. It's my first season here. It has gone better than I could have ever expected."

In the pre-race build-up it had been documented that the field in the 1,800-metre turf contest had no pace horses, and Joseph O'Brien went to the front on Await The Dawn.

As Aidan O'Brien's challenger entered the home turn, he began to falter and Doyle positioned his mount so the pair used the final turn as a slingshot to steal a length lead coming into the straight.

From there it was simply a matter of how far the Prince Khalid Abdullah-owned horse would win by and the pair stopped the clock at one minute, 48.65 seconds, beating Mahbooba's record.

Doyle rode 76 winners in England last year without the backing of any major yard and Cityscape's victory was his 23rd in the UAE this season after he replaced the injured William Buick at Dhruba Selvaratnam's yard.

With a strike rate of just 12 per cent in England last season it only highlights the work ethic of the 23-year-old rider, who picked up the ride because regular partner Steve Drowne also has injury problems.

Doyle flew back to England three weeks ago to form an association with Cityscape, and the pair had a racecourse gallop at Kempton Park.

Roger Charlton, the trainer, said: "James rode him for the second time in his life, and when he got off he said, 'This horse is unbelievable.' The horse quickened three times, and although he was working with a rubbish horse he looked good.

"I'm so thrilled for James, as it his first win at this level and you have to feel sorry for Steve Drowne, who had ridden the horse in virtually all of his races."

Cityscape now has the lucrative mile programme in Asia open to him and the horse could go for the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup this month or the BMW Champions Mile in May.

Each of those races is in Hong Kong.

Cityscape also could be aimed at the Singapore Airlines Cup at Kranj Racecourse at the end of May.

"In England we fight and complain about how bad prize money is," Charlton said.

"It is almost embarrassing how much money we have won tonight. That sort of money is what I would win in England in three years, not three minutes."

 

sports@thenational.ae