33/1 Scarlet Dragon hands Hollie Doyle first Royal Ascot success
Hollie Doyle created history in 2019 when recording the highest number of wins ever by a female jockey in a calendar year – 116.
The jockey now has another addition to her CV after partnering 33/1 shot Scarlet Dragon to victory in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap, providing her with a first Royal Ascot victory.
The seven-year-old came from off the pace before getting on top in the final half-furlong, scoring by half a length from Deja. It was a second Royal Ascot win in 2020 for trainer Alan King.
Doyle, 23, said: “Scarlet Dragon is a strong old traveller, and you need that horse underneath you to do those kind of manoeuvres, especially at this track, so I was lucky. I know him very well – I won the Old Rowley Cup [October, 2016] on him, and I had to sit and suffer that day, but when he gets those gaps, he really flies through them.
“This means a huge amount to me. You walk into Ascot every year with really high hopes, and try to picture in your head what it’s like to ride a winner here, but it is very hard to come across winners, as I have learnt. This today was amazing for me. It is definitely the icing on the cake. I have got a lot of people to thank for my success recently; I can’t really put into words what it means.
“Hayley Turner has been there and done it, she has ridden G1 winners. It is hard to imagine ever riding a G1 winner myself, but she has done it so I know it is possible one day. My aim is to improve every year on what I achieved the year before, ability-wise, so I have luckily been getting the opportunities and I have improved as a rider, but I have got a long, long way to go. That is something I really look forward to because you can never stop improving or learning, so that is what it is for me from now on.
“When I was a 5lb claimer at Richard Hannon’s, Mr (Henry) Ponsonby, who owns Scarlet Dragon, had a few in training there and he used to put me up on his horses, and I luckily got on Scarlet Dragon when Eve Johnson Houghton trained him and won the Old Rowley Cup. That just led on to more opportunities because he has horses in training with other trainers. He had First Mohican who was my first Glorious Goodwood ride. Little things like that help you get to the next level, and it is weird that I have done it today on this horse.
“It was really important that I got that Royal Ascot winner. I mean it is important for any jockey out there, it is just a monkey off my back. I am very grateful.
“It was a great training performance from Mr King as well, as this horse had lost his way a little bit on the Flat, I suppose you could say, but to run like that off a lay off takes some doing.
“For once in my life, I have beaten Tom [Marquand, her boyfriend] to it!”
Henry Ponsonby, who manages the syndicate that owns Scarlet Dragon, said: “The biggest prize this horse had won up today, well bigger than today, was the £150,000 Old Rowley Cup as a three-year-old. I don’t think he has won on the Flat since then, but he has been five times Group placed.
“This is his prep for the Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen next month!
“To be honest, turning for home I didn’t think we would be in the action. Hollie has not ridden him for some time and she gets a tune out of this horse, and I said on my owners’ line this morning that if she gets the tune she got at Goodwood, just hope for the best.
“He is not very big and didn’t cost very much. Eve Johnson-Houghton did a fabulous job on the Flat and Alan King has taken two years to win a race on the Flat! But well done Alan, he is having a good Ascot.
“We have got Who Dares Wins tomorrow in the Queen Alexandra Stakes, so fingers crossed.”
4.40pm Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (Handicap)
1 Scarlet Dragon [drawn 12] Alan King 7-9-02 Hollie Doyle 33/1
2 Deja  Peter Chapple-Hyam 5-9-05 Andrea Atzeni 9/1
3 West End Charmer  Mark Johnston 4-9-09 William Buick 4/1 Fav
Non-Runners: 2 El Misk, 4 Dal Horrisgle, 5 Universal Order, 6 Byron Flyer, 13 Koeman (all going)
Time: 2m 35.4s
Distances: ½, 1½
Tote Win: £51.40 Places:£9.90, £3.15, £1.90 Exacta:£440.50
Click here for an audio interview with Hollie Doyle – http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access2/index.php?a=UmFjZW5ld3M=&b=31595