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Hollie Doyle and Willie Mullins team up to strike gold with True Self in Riyadh

Sat 20 Feb 2021

Record-breaking rider Hollie Doyle created history by becoming the first female to ride a winner on Saudi Cup day in the Neom Turf Cup.

Watch a full replay of how Hollie Doyle guided True Self to victory

Hollie Doyle broke American hearts when bringing Willie Mullins’ True Self with a tremendous late run to take the Neom Turf Cup in Riyadh.

Britain’s record-breaking female jockey produced True Self to collar long-time leader Channel Maker close home and lift the £437,956 first prize.

Bill Mott’s Channel Maker, a close third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, looked like he had the race in the bag when he slipped the field at the top of straight after soaring past For The Top.

However, jockey Joel Rosario had not accounted for True Self’s abundant stamina – and the eight-year-old started to reduce the gap.

With Doyle in full drive, True Self pulled away from Channel Maker to score by a length and a quarter. The pair were four and three-quarter lengths clear of Emirates Knight in third.

The well-fancied Tilsit, trained by Charlie Hills, had a good early position but was beaten a long way from home.

Doyle enjoyed a sensational 2020 – and again looks like carrying all before her.

Record-breaker Hollie Doyle discusses True Shan's victory

She said: “It was an incredible year (last year) and it’s great to get this year off winning a valuable race such as this.

“To be fair, I thought she was my best winning chance of the day. I watched all her performances and I thought she was well up to winning this. The step back in trip was an incredibly clever move by Mr Mullins. She’s a strong traveller usually over further trips, and that helped her today.

“They went an even, generous gallop all the way round. We got racing quite soon so the race fell apart quite early, but luckily I managed to latch on to the back of Ryan Moore (on Tilsit) and I got the splits up the straight.”

Doyle admitted riding in the jockeys’ challenge at the track on Friday, even though she had no luck, was a big help to her.

She said: “It made a huge difference. It was great walking into a day as important as this having the experience I gained yesterday.”

A proud Mullins looked on from his County Carlow base, and was full of praise for both Doyle and his winning mare.

"Ruby Walsh gave me plenty of advice" - Hollie Doyle

He said: “I’d like to congratulate Hollie on a fantastic ride.

“She’s way more speed than we thought when we bought her – as a bumper mare, to go hurdling with.

“She just has a huge amount of speed. All the jockeys who have ridden her have said to me that a mile and a quarter suits her.

“I was happy enough with where Hollie had positioned herself – and I imagine, without having talked to Hollie (yet), that she was probably going as fast as she could over the first half of the race.

“Then, when the pace was injected as the American horse went up on the outside, I thought ‘that’s great, because they’ll be coming back at the end’.

“Sure enough – that’s what happened. Hollie just kept her head, kept the position we’d discussed – if we’d anything left in the tank we’d just wait and wait as long as she could.

“It looked like our mare just stayed on and on, while the one in front was just tying up.”

He added: “We’ve had gale force winds here (in Ireland) and an inch of rain this morning, and I thought ‘it’ll be lovely over there’. But then I saw at the start you had lots of rain as well. So I thought ‘that suits the mare – she’ll feel more at home with that’.”

Looking to future targets for True Self, Mullins said: “We’ll have a look – today’s race and Australia at the end of this year in November, that’s the main plan. So what we do in between times we haven’t really thought about.

“The first part of the year’s plan has worked out, and it will be probably on to Australia from here.”

Space Blues rockets home for Buick and Appleby

Watch how Space Blues scored in Riyadh

Space Blues made a winning return to action after a six-month break with a narrow victory in the stc Turf Sprint in Riyadh.

Winner of all four of his four starts in the summer, culminating in a first Group One success in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, the Charlie Appleby-trained five-year-old looks set for another lucrative campaign.

Krispen made the early running and was pressed by the former Richard Hannon-trained Urban Icon, who set sail for home in the straight.

Space Blues shrugged off his stablemate Glorious Journey, but had to knuckle down for William Buick to catch Urban Icon and last year’s winner, Dark Power.

He managed it in the shadow of the post to score a shade cosily in the end from Dark Power, ridden by Frankie Dettori, with Urban Icon just behind in third.

Watch what Charlie Appleby had to say about Space Blues

Appleby said: “Absolutely delighted with that. We knew he was a class horse coming into the race and he had a lovely draw. I could see (the ground) was a bit loose for him and our concern was that he might just spin a bit on it, but he’s come back on the bridle turning in like a class horse and put the race to bed at the right time.

“He travels for fun, watching the race there. I’ll be interested to see what William has to say because obviously Dubai World Cup night (Al Quoz Sprint) has to be taken into consideration.”

Buick said: “We had a great run through. He broke well and I didn’t want to be too close to the pace. The pace was perfect. It wasn’t too hot or too slow. I followed Frankie before the split in the straight. It was how I hoped the race would pan out. He was the best horse and I didn’t want to go for any heroics.

“You’d imagine this would set him for the Al Quoz.”

Gifts Of Gold springs surprise

Gifts Of Gold sprang a 33-1 surprise when taking the spoils in the Red Sea Turf Handicap.

The lesser fancied of two Godolphin runners, Saeed bin Suroor’s six-year-old came with a surging run to assert a furlong and put the race to bed in the hands of Pat Cosgrave.

Gifts Of Gold had been well-beaten over mile at Meydan last month on his first run since since September, but bounced back from that over this one mile and seven furlongs.

Last year’s winner Call The Wind and Mildenberger set the early pace, until the complexion of the race changed at the top of the straight when plenty of horses were in contention.

Gifts Of Gold’s move proved decisive and the outsider took a handy advantage. Andrew Balding’s Spanish Mission looked dangerous, but had to settle for second place.

Godolphin’s first string, the Appleby-trained Secret Advisor, stayed on for third place.

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