'I want to ride as many winners as I could but to achieve a new British record for female jockeys is very satisfying'

Hollie Doyle
Hollie Doyle

Record-breaking Hollie Doyle has collected so many bottles of winner’s champagne she could open an off licence but she’s no intention of cracking one open to celebrate just yet.

When they write the history of a fascinating year of racing then the Ladbrokes ‘Where The Nation Plays’ Nursery Handicap wouldn’t normally merit the tiniest footnote.

A class six dash on the all-weather at Southwell, worth a princely £2,781.67, is about as low-key as this sport gets.

But Doyle's win on Class Clown broke the British record in for the most winners in a year by a female jockey - her 107th success and counting.

Doyle, 23, had equalled Josephine Gordon's mark from two years ago five days previously and admitted some frustration after three close seconds at Lingfield - including a defeat by boyfriend Tom Marquand who she promptly told, only half joking, ‘not to come home’.

"I never thought I would be in this position to break the record," she said.

"I want to ride as many winners as I could but to achieve a new British record for female jockeys is very satisfying and it’s just a wonderful way to end the year.

"The fact that it was only two years ago that Josie set the last record is really positive and goes to show women are being given more rides every year, which is such a positive thing.

"I’ve been incredibly lucky this year to avoid injury and to work for amazing trainers and owners, so I’d like that to continue and to have even more winners in 2020.

“However, there's a lot more races to come before the New Year and I want to keep riding winners."

It's only 14 years since the trailblazing Hayley Turner became the first woman to ride 50 winners in a season - and 11 since she broke the three figure barrier.

Doyle's success on the flat is matched by National Hunt contemporary Bryony Frost. Her big-race win at the Cheltenham Festival earlier this year recognised when she became the first female rider to lift a Derby Award, when she was named jumps jockey of the year by racing media this week.

The recent rise of female jockeys - according to the Professional Jockeys Association 14 percent of licences are now held by women - is a notable and Swedish rider Selma Grage had her first career winner on the same Southwell card Doyle made history.

"She’s winning at life right now,” said close friend Gordon. “Hollie’s had a super year but I know how hard she works, though I would have preferred the record for a little longer too.

"I think as we see more girls coming into the sport, this perhaps won't be such a big deal, which can only be a good thing."

The diminutive Doyle is barely five foot tall but is as hard as nails.

She's up at 5am every day, works seven days a week and probably spends more time in her car - racing between tracks - than she does in bed.

Doyle's future was perhaps never in doubt, her father was a jockey and she was on a horse virtually as soon as she could walk.

From her first wins at Pony Club her ambition was clear and one day after receiving her GCSE results, she packed her bags as left Herefordshire for Wales, riding for maverick trainer David Evans - whose school of hard knocks approach moulded her work ethic.

Last year she had all her teeth kicked out after a fall but £8,000 of dental work later and she can afford a broad smile about a year that has seen her establish her credentials, her latest win moving her into the top ten of the jockeys' table, banking over £1.2 million in prize money in the process.

Classic winning trainer Richard Hannon has spoken about her fearsome work ethic, having been an early supporter of her career.

And while most of her winners this season have come for the prolific Archie Watson, 41 other trainers have benefited from her winning touch too.

"She's relentless," said Marquand, who sees her dedication to the cause at close quarters.

"She won't be happy yet, she'll want to keep riding winners all the way to the end of the year - and then she will want to start again.

"She doesn't want to be seen as a female jockey - just a jockey in her own right and that's one of the things that makes her special.”