Sky Sports Racing Ambassador Hollie Doyle considers her chances of becoming the first female jockey to win a British Classic in Friday’s Cazoo Oaks and assesses her three other rides at Epsom.
Confidence high after final Oaks workout
I have been overwhelmed by the interest from the media and racing fans alike in my ride on Nashwa in the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom and hope we can write some even bigger headlines come Friday afternoon.
To be riding the second favourite in a Classic at this stage on my career is amazing and I just can’t wait for the big day to arrive now that all the preparation’s been done.
Riding her in that final piece of work on the Cambridge Road Polytrack at Newmarket last Sunday has made me feel even more confident about the big race. Every time I sit on her she seems to progress a little bit more – there’s so much more to come from her physically.
Nashwa also has a lovely mind and a great attitude which are the some of the biggest attributes you can ask for in any racehorse. She’s also very relaxed, which will be vital on the day as she does step into the unknown tripwise.
On paper, with the speed she has inherited from her great sire Frankel, she has got a stamina question mark against her name but will give herself every chance of getting home.
John and Thady Gosden have done a fantastic job with Nashwa and I’m so happy for my boss Imad Alsagar that one of his home-breds is among the favourites for a race of this magnitude.
To pull it off on Friday and become the first female jockey to win a Classic would of course be a dream come true and would be just as amazing for Imad’s Blue Diamond Stud, too.
The amount of investment, passion and dedication he puts into his breeding operation is quite phenomenal so to win the Oaks with a home-bred filly would mean the world to him and his team.
It’s a tough race that demands much more of her at this early stage of her development but we’ve been given a fair draw in stall six, right next to the favourite Emily Upjohn, and though she’s never encountered slow ground, her pedigree suggests the rain that’s fallen at Epsom shouldn’t be detrimental.
Whatever happens I’m convinced Nashwa has so much more to offer as the year progresses. She’s still a work in progress so as long as she runs her race we’ll take the positives in the knowledge that we have a very special filly to go forward with.
Excel Power has hat-trick in his sights
Archie Watson’s four-year-old Excel Power has taken his form to a new level this season and has a favourite’s chance of completing the hat-trick in the valuable World Pool Handicap (2.35) at Epsom.
He’s been a revelation since stepping up to a mile, winning all his three races, and has every chance on current form of overcoming a 6lb rise for his latest performance at Windsor.
Epsom’s undulations present a very different test this time but he’s run well at idiosyncratic tracks before, winning at Brighton and being placed at Ripon for example, so that shouldn’t be a problem.
I’m more concerned about the soft conditions which will be a new experience for him. He has a grass cutting action and his three turf wins have all been achieved on good to firm.
Slow ground a concern for Phantom
The rain that’s fallen on the Epsom Downs probably isn’t ideal for The City’s Phantom either, but he couldn’t come into the Cazoo Handicap (3.45) in better form.
Like Excel Power, Richard Spencer’s five-year-old has also done his winning on good to firm going, including a dominant re-appearance at Yarmouth for Adam Kirby in April.
He’s been hit with a 9lb rise in the ratings for that six-length success and isn’t ideally drawn in stall 10 for a horse who likes to make the running, but he does go well fresh so the break he’s had since Yarmouth should see him in top form.
Return to seven a help to Secret
Top Secret and I have a score to settle after being caught literally in the shadow of the post at Newbury on his re-appearance last month.
That was over a mile, so the return to seven furlongs in the Cazoo Derby Festival Handicap (5.45) can only be in his favour having achieved both his career wins over the shorter trip.
William Muir and Chris Grassick have done a great job with this horse, who was a bit fiery last year. I was impressed with his attitude on that return from a winter break at Newbury which is something solid to build on.
Rooting for Pyledriver in Coronation
No one would be happier than me to see Pyledriver win the Group One Coronation Cup at Epsom on Friday for the second year in succession.
I have a great deal of respect for his trainers William Muir and Chris Grassick, who are passionate about the game and work tirelessly to get the best out of their horses.
Pyledriver ran very well in the Sheema Classic in Dubai at the end of March and should give another good account of himself under Frankie Dettori, but I have a feeling High Definition could pose a serious threat.
He ran a super race to be second in the Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland recently and if last week’s exertions haven’t taken their toll, Aidan O’Brien’s colt might just take some pegging back over this longer trip.
Hollie Doyle was speaking to Sky Sports Racing’s Simon Mapletoft