Hollie Doyle became the first jockey to win a French classic when she won the French Oaks (Prix de Diane) in Chantilly on Sunday with her favorite Nashwa.
The 25-year-old English jockey finished third earlier this month in Nashwa in Epsom Oaks, but this time he made no mistake, he rode a great race to win.
She has long been considered the equivalent of Irish jumping jockey Rachael Blackmore, who made history as the first rider to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup (2022) and the Grand National (2021).
Doyle congratulated her fellow jockey and husband Tom Marquand – who finished seventh on Zellie – after passing the post, but the winning rider refused to be carried away by what she achieved.
“I’m just honored to be in this position,” she said.
“It’s such a prestigious race and it’s a huge honor.
“I wouldn’t be sitting on this elegant mare if Imad al Sagar (the owner) asked me to ride for him in 2020.”
Doyle grinned at the suggestion that he was as much a star as Nashwa.
“I do not know about it!”
It was left to Nashw’s coach John Gosden – who shares a license with his son Thady – to praise her.
“It’s amazing,” Gosden said. “She’s a very talented rider. She’s very serious and principled, but she has a great sense of humor.”
“She rode a very good race in what was tangled.
“Full marks for Nashwa owner and breeder Imad Al Sagar, who asked me two years ago who he should choose, and I and other people called Hollie Doyle,” the 71-year-old Englishman added.
– “Boss and the Romantic” –
Doyle was forced to do most of the run and seemed to be easy prey for Gerald Moss as he launched his challenge to La Parisienne in the last two furlongs (400 meters).
But Doyle and Nashwa buried deep to deny 55-year-old Mosse the sixth victory in the race – his first victory in 1988 came eight years before she was born.
“We were so close, but the winner is a rock and her jockey rode great,” said Yann Lerner, who trains La Parisienne with his father Carlos.
Doyle’s performance surpassed that of Marcel Marcialis, who in October 2020 became the first jockey to win the French Group 1 race, Marcel Boussac.
Her first classic victory comes two years after Doyle recorded her first success in Group 1 The Champions Sprint at Glen Shiel and finished fourth in the jockey championship.
Based on her deeds, she became the Sunday Times Athlete of the Year that year.
Doyle and Marquand’s darlings were able to keep their professional rivalry separate from personal life.
Marquand says she’s a “boss” and Doyle says she’s a “romantic,” the first of whom said in 2020, “We’re so lucky to be together since I was 14.”
“I think he was as happy as I was,” Doyle said after French Oaks.
“We’re always quite happy for ourselves, so I think he was pleased.”
Two years ago, Marquand – who is a year younger than Doyle – said that despite their success on the track, they could pass unnoticed by the general public.
“She was recognized by a taxi driver then!” Marquand joked.
“But we pass as children normally.”
It can be more complicated after Sunday’s historic ride.
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