Sky Sports Racing ambassador Hollie Doyle says Sunday’s record-breaking French Oaks victory on Nashwa was the first time she has allowed herself to embrace the significance of her achievements.
Doyle’s winning ride on the 7/4 favourite at Chantilly saw her become the first female rider to win a European Classic, a moment the 25-year-old was able to fully enjoy having travelled over solely to get aboard John and Thady Gosden’s star filly.
The victory marked yet another landmark for Doyle, who, in 2021, broke her own record for the number of winners by a female rider in a single season (172).
Doyle’s remarkable rise has also seen her named Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year and collect third prize at the 2020 BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.
Reflecting on her latest triumph, Doyle told Sky Sports Racing: “It’s pretty cool. I always just see myself as a jockey but yesterday was probably the first time I stood back, had a look around and embraced it.
“Usually I’m getting off, job done and moving onto the next one.
“Yesterday I only had the one ride and the massive reception they gave us was incredible – so I do really appreciate that.
“I actually got a women’s watch yesterday which was nice because I’m used to receiving men’s ones!
“It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours but it’s incredible really.
“Being English raiders in French territory you never know what to expect but I’ve never experienced anything like that before with the awards ceremony out on the track and the national anthem being played. It was all pretty surreal.”
Trainer John Gosden was full of praise for Doyle’s steering on Nashwa after the jockey ensured a crucial fast start out of the stalls and maintained a prominent position from which she was perfectly poised to fend off her nearest attackers.
Looking back on her ride, Doyle said: “It was a messy old race. She came out of Epsom well and it was a pretty amazing training performance from Mr Gosden to get her there 16 days after Epsom.
“The race didn’t go to plan but she’s pretty versatile and was happy in the position that we gained. Looking back, I was probably in the right place at the right time.
“I was holding onto her for as long as I could but when I pushed the button she responded well. When the second horse came to me a furlong out I did feel vulnerable but she knuckled down.”
Having crossed the line, Doyle shared a beautiful moment with husband and fellow jockey Tom Marquand, as he rode past on seventh-placed Zellie.
A clearly delighted Marquand reached out to congratulate Doyle, who was still in shock at what had just happened.
“He just shouted well done,” Doyle revealed. “Going into the race obviously Nashwa had a great chance but until it happens you can’t believe it so I was a bit gobsmacked for a while.
“I didn’t have the words to describe how I felt when they tried to interview me. As I walked in I got a shower of champagne which was pretty cool. It was a warm welcome.”
The win was extra sweet for Doyle as it came in the colours of her boss Imad Alsagar, who put his faith in the young rider long before the records started tumbling.
“It’s a massive privilege,” Doyle said. “I’m unsure if I would’ve got an opportunity like this in the whole of my career without the association with Imad.
“I have lots of support from lots of trainers but we all know how hard it is to get on board these types of animals in Classics and Group Ones.”