Jockey Hollie Doyle, who celebrated her first Group 1 winner in 2020, will take part in the STC International Jockeys' Challenge in Saudia Arabia later this month.
The Feb. 19 contest features 14 jockeys at King Abdulaziz Racetrack, with Doyle also booked on MGSW Extra Elusive (GB) (Mastercraftsman Ire) for trainer Roger Charlton in the $20-million Saudi Cup the next day.
“I'm really excited to be riding in Saudi,” said Doyle, who also rode her first winner at Royal Ascot last term and competed in the Hong Kong International Jockeys' Championship. “I've had a few international trips recently, including Hong Kong, America and Bahrain, and it's great that I'm getting to go to these big meetings around the world.
“Competing in the jockey challenge events is really cool, because you get to ride alongside some of the world's top athletes. I've only been to some of these places for a short period of time, but I've learnt a lot. That's what will hopefully make me a better jockey, and I'll keep taking these opportunities with both hands.
“Last year was unbelievable, and when you get a taste of success it makes you want it even more. I've now got even more drive and ambition to succeed in 2021.”
Named The Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year, Doyle is could also potentially team up with Jane Chapple-Hyam's Albadri (Ire) (Dandy Man Ire) in the Saudi Derby.
“It looks as though Extra Elusive has got into the Saudi Cup, so I'd be really excited about riding him in that on the Saturday,” she said. “The prize-money goes all the way down to 10th, so it would be great if he took his chance there and could get amongst it.
“I'd like to think he'll handle the dirt because he goes well on slow ground here in England. I'm not sure how similar it would ride to a slow turf track, but I'd prefer to ride him on the dirt than I would on the turf as you'd imagine it will be slower. The Saudi Cup is only nine furlongs, and we know he stays further than that.
“I could have Albadri on the Saturday too, because I know Jane Chapple-Hyam is hoping to go for the Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby after his win at Southwell recently. He's a lightly-raced horse that's going the right way at the moment, but he'll need to take another big step forward to get competitive.”
“There's been a bit of toing and froing, but he's going to run in the Saudi Cup,” said Charlton. “We got an invite to the Saudi Cup that we weren't really expecting–and having discussed it with the owner [Imad Al Sagar], he's very keen to run in it. The prize-money is so much more than the Neom Turf Cup–if you finish 10th in the Saudi Cup, it's the same prize-money for finishing second in the turf race.
“Over 1800m they'll go very, very quick–and the kickback will be something he hasn't experienced before. We're hoping we can get among the money. In the past he has inclined to be up at the front making the running–this obviously won't be the case, so a wider draw would probably be beneficial to keep him out of the kickback.
“My concern is that he hasn't travelled abroad yet, and he's a fairly highly-strung individual. It's how he takes a 16-hour journey door-to-door and how he handles the training on the track out there. He had a break after the end of last season, and the weather hasn't been very helpful to us–we've had snow here twice. He didn't resume exercise until after Christmas, and it's been a steady build-up. He does all his training by himself, but he seems in good form. It's important that he's in a consistent and steady routine every day.”