‘It would be amazing and definitely the next step up’.
Hollie Doyle is well used to rewriting the record books – and on Friday she is set to get another chance to make history when she partners Sherbet Lemon in the Cazoo Oaks.
At the age of just 24, Doyle holds the best tally for number of winners ridden by a woman in a calendar year, has twice ridden five-timers and become the first female to be successful on Champions Day at Ascot.
She has also finished third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, and partnered a winner in Saudi Arabia.
Now all thoughts turn to Epsom – on a filly who emerged as a Classic contender with victory in the Lingfield Oaks Trial.
Doyle is also aware of the impact made on the sport over recent months when Rachael Blackmore dominated Cheltenham and then won the Grand National, tandis que Bryony Frost played her part in becoming the first woman to come home in front in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
Doyle said: “It’s great to get the ride. That was the aim at the start of the year – to continue to ride plenty of winners, but at the same time to try to get some good rides in good races. To get a ride in the Oaks is great.
“It would be the biggest winner of my career, je suppose, to win a Classic. It would be amazing and definitely the next step up.
“I suppose I look up to the likes of Ryan Moore and people like that – but when other females in racing achieve things like Rachael and Bryony, it makes you believe that these sorts of things are possible. Hopefully what I do can help inspire others by setting a good example.”
Of the Archie Watson-trained Sherbet Lemon, Doyle said: “I won first time out on her at Newcastle – and although I’ve not sat on her on the racetrack since, I do most of the work at home on her so I know her really well.
“I couldn’t ride her when she won the trial that day at Lingfield, but I was delighted for the whole team that she got the job done that day. I’ve galloped her since, and she has really improved.
“It was a really good performance, and she pulled it out of the bag. She was a bit green late on, so there is plenty more to come.
“Obviously we are all there to try to win the race, but I hope she can finish in the top five or six. At the end of the day it would just be great to see her run well.
“I do feel she wants a bit of cut in the ground, so if it dries out a lot it would probably be a bit inconvenient, but then we have never been on quick ground.”
Doyle and Watson have become a formidable partnership, and the rider added: “If she was trained by someone else and won her trial she would have probably nearly been favourite and not a 25-1 chance – but Archie is a trainer on the up, and it is great for a ride like this to have come from him.
“He does really well with what he gets and we have got some nice horses as well that we’ll see towards the middle to the back end of the year come out.
“We are getting sent some quality horses, which is good. Everyone at the yard is excited, because everyone loves that filly – which is great.
“I do appreciate what I have done, and winning the Oaks would be amazing, but I never look back.
“I’m always feeling a bit worried that something is going to happen or that I’m going to drop off the face of the earth, so I’m always just living to try to always go forward.
“I’m never happy or comfortable in my position, because I’m always worried that I’m going to have a quiet time or something. That’s why I don’t ever want to take my foot off the pedal.”