Ageless Kilt Rock enjoys life in the Kent countryside

Kilt Rock spent his early years as a pensioner in the sumptuous stabling and facilities of Al Habtoor Polo Club



Kilt Rock is now a regular on the circuit of horse shows and one-day events. (Supplied photo)
Kilt Rock is now a regular on the circuit of horse shows and one-day events. (Supplied photo)

By Jacquie Doyle

Published: Tue 15 Mar 2022, 11:56 PM

Kilt Rock began his racing career in the capable hands of the legendary trainer Terry Mills, just a stone’s throw from the home of the Epsom Derby.

His early runs took in Ascot, Newbury and Windsor, suggesting that he was clearly well thought of by the very level-headed Mills. But sights were lowered on run four when he was second under none other than my son James Doyle, at Wolverhampton and the pair then won at Kempton next time.

I incidentally booked James to ride him, in my role of Jockeys Agent, as I was at that time. Many jovial and to the point conversations used to be enjoyed by your author with the straight-talking Mills.

Kilt returned to work after a six-month break with an official rating of just 70 which set the tone for his future in the UK.

He ran four times the following year (2010) without a win yet was close up and in the money on each run, his rating remained 70.

A move to the north of England and some easier company gave him further success before he moved on to the rather warmer tracks of Dubai, placed in the hands of Doug Watson and the Emirates Entertainment Racing Club (EERC) run by Justin and Rebecca Byrne.

As with many newcomers to the Emirates, he spent the first winter acclimatising while still earning his keep in six races. It was as a four-year old that he finally rewarded the EERC members, showing his love of life with four wins, a second and a third from seven efforts up the steep climb of Jebel Ali, but now dropped back in distance to five and six furlongs and finishing his season on a respectable rating of 102.

The 2012-13 season saw him chasing in vain the local hero Russian Rock on no less than four occasions, yet once again paying his way with one win (Russian Rock stayed home that day) and getting placed in each of his other five races, raising his rating to an outstanding 109 while doing so.

2013-14 saw life becoming very tough on Kilt Rock, though things looked up when the handicapper became kinder and down to 93 he scraped home a neck for a Meydan victory.

He did gain another Meydan win in 2016 but always showed Jebel Ali was his first love with sterling efforts in defeat right up to his retirement in March 2017, as a sprightly eight-year-old.

Kilt Rock spent his early years as a pensioner in the sumptuous stabling and facilities of Al Habtoor Polo Club, still in the ownership of the EERC and on lease to Cassy Dickson who, as a lady returning to horse riding from a long break, was determined that herself and Kilt progressed steadily together at their own pace.

Consequently, it was early 2019 before the duo were seen competing in minor equestrian competitions here in Dubai.

But a return to England beckoned for the Dickson clan, including the much loved, handsome chestnut horse who by now had become a fully-fledged Dickson family member.

Since getting his British passport stamped, Kilt has settled into the cooler way of life in the Kent countryside and is now a regular on the circuit of horse shows and one-day events in his locality.

A little bird informs me that none other than the lady responsible for putting the wheels in motion of Kilts Rock’s new life, Debbie Armaly, has been on duty as his ‘groom’ when visits to the UK allow it!

I am in no doubt that if any of his previous EERC syndicate owners should wish to visit him when they are in the UK, Kilt’s door will always be open.

The author is a former Derby-winning trainer and the mother of world-renowned jockeys, James and Sophie Doyle


More news from Horse Racing