James Doyle delivers another unbelievable Meydan hat trick

Meydan a happy hunting ground for James Doyle


Leslie Wilson Jr

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Algiers, ridden by James Doyle, wins the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan racecourse on Friday. — Photo by Shihab
Algiers, ridden by James Doyle, wins the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan racecourse on Friday. — Photo by Shihab

Published: Fri 3 Feb 2023, 10:50 PM

When James Doyle arrived in Dubai earlier this year looking to add Meydan Racecourse to his list of happy hunting grounds, even he could not have foreseen the success that he would enjoy in such a short span of time.

Less than a month after bagging an unbelievable hat trick on the opening night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival, the ‘Doyler’ struck again on Friday when riding three winners, including the hugely exciting Algiers in Round 2 of the Al Maktoum Challenge (G1).

A retained rider to the all-powerful Dubai-owned Godolphin stable, Doyle is developing a significant partnership with six-year-old son of Darley stallion Shamardal, who has won twice on the bounce at Meydan.

Perhaps more importantly Algiers has put himself firmly in the frame for a shot at the ultimate victory in the March 25 running of the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1).

If his six-and-a-half length victory in Round 1 of the Al Maktoum Challenge on January 3 fuelled joint trainers, Simon and Ed Crisford’s big-race dreams, then the performance he delivered in a tougher test that is Round 2 confirmed that he was the real deal.

With Doyle once again a picture of confidence aboard the former French galloper, Algiers was able to shake off any pressure and run the opposition down. No small feat considering there were three Group 1 winners, trailing in his wake as he crossed the line, an impressive six-length winner.

Simon Crisford, who was associated with many Dubai World Cup winners in his previous role as Racing Manager to the Godolphin stable, now finds himself in a position to win the Meydan showpiece as an individual trainer.

The Englishman spoke about the impact Algiers had on his plans for the season and said: “That was just fantastic. The horse galloped on strongly which is so important in these dirt races.

“We were considering the Godolphin Mile but after that I think we will have to seriously be thinking Dubai World Cup.”

“He was really strong and he finished off the race really nicely. He showed a lot of class. He clearly likes this racetrack,” he added.

“The question we had today was stepping him up in trip (mile to 1800m), but he handled it very well. He gets the distance, he stays the trip, so we’ve got a lot of options.”

Even as Crisford was collecting the Al Maktoum Challenge Trophy, international oddsmakers were scurrying to revise the prices for the Dubai World Cup where they slashed Algiers odds to 6/1 behind the favourite Country Grammer.

“We’ll see how the horse is the next week or so but the Al Maktoum Challenge is obviously a very important race in its own right,” he said. “So if we think that the horse needs a little more match practice for the big race then we’ve got the option to go there.”

Doyle added: “He was very keen early on in the race when I was trying to restrain him but he just kept on galloping and that was a very good performance. It is an exciting horse to be associated with.”

The race was won in the past by subsequent Dubai World Cup winners Moon Ballad (2003) and Thunder Snow (2018).

Meanwhile, the Group 2 Cape Verdi, for fillies and mares over 1600m on turf, saw With The Moonlight lead a Godolphin 1-2 under William Buick.

The winner was chased home by White Moonlight who battled hard under Adrie de Vries for Saeed bin Suroor.

Buick said of the winner: “She is a very nice filly and this was the perfect spot to bring her back. She will appreciate stepping back up in trip so that was very pleasing.”

Godolphin and Appleby and Doyle all completed trebles in the second turf feature, the 1800m Group 2 Singspiel Stakes, with course specialist Valiant Prince maintaining his unbeaten record on the surface.

Doyle said: “He obviously loves it here and he is really growing up as he behaved impeccably tonight and has shown a great attitude in a battle to snatch victory under a penalty. Hopefully he can keep progressing.”

Earlier, the Vazaribad turf handicap over 2410 metres was won comfortably by Godolphin homebred First Ruler, partnered by James Doyle for Charlie Appleby.

The meeting opened with the Purebred Arabian version of the Al Maktoum Challenge which was won by Oscar Chavez aboard the French raider Hayyan.

Majed Al Jahoori saddled the winner, scoring for the ninth time in total and fourth at the highest level, for Yas Racing.

Bhupat Seemar’s Tuz was an easy winner of the 1200m Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint.

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