THE TIMES, 28 July 2021
Just in case she hadn’t emphasised her excellence enough, Hollie Doyle followed up her Goodwood Cup success on Trueshan by landing the next two races. She has now ridden more than 100 winners in 2021, more than any other jockey in the calendar year. But Trueshan was the best of them.
For the race brought out all that was good about horse and rider — talented, straightforward and super tough. Trueshan was bought with the idea of winning the Champion Hurdle as Alan King, his trainer, had done with Katchit in 2008. But after Doyle rode Trueshan to his first two victories, at Wolverhampton and Ffos Las, he has just got better and better on the Flat. Mind you, so has Doyle.
With the four-times winner Stradivarius a late withdrawal because of deluges on Sunday and Monday night, Trueshan was made 6-5 favourite in an eight-runner field that had also lost Mekong and Spanish Mission as late defectors. At the line Doyle had driven Trueshan almost four lengths clear of the 33-1 outsider Away He Goes but the journey there had not been anything like as easy as that result and those prices suggest.
For a start, Trueshan spent precious parts of the race with the choke out. The changing turns and unique undulations of the Goodwood track meant that the five-year-old kept seeing open grass in front of him and set himself to pull Doyle’s arms out of their sockets. But she can squat-lift 60kg and dead lift 120kg in the gym. Trueshan would be the loser.
The first open-space challenge was when the Aidan O’Brien-trained pacemaker Amhran Na Bhfiann moved across to the far rail after the course did the first of its serpentine turns on the Goodwood Cup’s two-mile journey. When Doyle finally got Trueshan anchored on the way up to the topmost slope, Nayef Road came through to attack on the downhill and the choke was out again.
But good jockeys make problems into advantages and so now Trueshan’s pilot tracked over to the stands’ side to get the rail to race against when the challengers made their throw. After so much pulling it was never going to be easy but the biggest threat came in the unexpected white nose-banded shape of Away He Goes, who loomed up ominously. But Trueshan is a battler. He has won eight of his 14 races and wasn’t conceding this one. Neither was Doyle.
She has her own way of doing things. She is a pocket dynamo who clamps in tight to her horse and pushes and drives to assert her will as well as her strength onto them. “I got some buzz off that,” she said afterwards. “I don’t get too high or low but when you get experiences like that you have to make the most of them.”
Alan King doesn’t get too wound up except on the gallops in the mornings, but admitted that he had been more and more nervous as the chance of what would be his first group one winner on the Flat drew closer.
Barbury Castle, where King trains in Wiltshire, goes back to the Iron Age and while he has been there only since 2000, he has added many of the top jumps races to the roll of honour. Now King has added the Goodwood Cup. “Yes,” he said to the comparisons, “this is right up there.”
Trueshan’s owners include Andrew Gemmell, who has become famous with his enthusiastic support of his super stayer Paisley Park at Cheltenham. Andrew is totally blind but on a racetrack he sees his horses every step of the way. Trueshan’s steps will have been among the happiest.
One final note, which is a matter of record but not surprise. Doyle is the first female rider to win the Goodwood Cup. Time was when everyone would swoon at that sentence. That time has passed — much for the better.