Doyle still ‘vitallly important’

Godolphin's top brass say James Doyle remains a key player and a friend to the organisation, despite his recent demotion from the role of first-choice jockey to Saeed bin Suroor.

James Doyle (right): Still to be seen in the Godolphin colours… at least for now!

Godolphin chief executive and racing manager John Ferguson spoke out following newspaper reports Doyle might replace Paul Hanagan as retained jockey for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who is the brother of Godolphin founder Sheikh Mohammed.

Fergsuon said: "Saeed made it clear that though [he] wasn't automatic choice, he'd still be very much a member of that team.

"I don't think there's a problem with that. I totally and utterly respect Saeed's achievements and his ability to make the right decisions.

"He will have discussed it with Sheikh Mohammed, and he will have said to Saeed 'If you believe that is the right thing to do then you do it'.

"James is a fantastic player. He's been signed for Godolphin to ride those horses they want him to ride and he rides for other people as well.

"We have complete faith in him as a top-class pilot and when Saeed wants to use him he will ask for him and when he wants to use someone else he will.

"We have so many horses in so many different trainers' yards now. James will still be very busy and we're looking forward to many more years riding for us."

Bin Suroor reiterated his view that there had been no fallout and that the situation was he would continue to give Doyle rides.

He told Channel 4 Racing: "James is a good man and is our friend. We love James. As John (Ferguson) said he will still ride for us. After Frankie (Dettori) left us there has not been a number one jockey. Everybody knows that.

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"James can ride for me and for other trainers. We give him so many rides. John has made it clear and we will support James now and in the future."

Doyle was on the mark on the day at Newmarket when steering Best Of Days to victory in the Godolphin colours for trainer Hugo Palmer in the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket.

He said: "I have to respect Saeed's decision, ultimately he's the boss of the stable and if he sees fit to use other jockeys I have to respect that and go about my business the best I can really."

Ferguson added after the Royal Lodge: "James Doyle is a hugely talented rider, as he has just proven. He will remain a member of the team. He has made it very clear himself and he has made a statement himself and at the end of the day he is a vitally, vitally important member of Godolphin going forward.

"James is an absolutely key member of the team and will continue to be.

"Wayne Rooney was on the bench today and that is (Jose) Mourinho's decision. Likewise, Saeed manages his team and his record speaks for itself.

"He has had a bit of a tough time this year with viruses, but ultimately he has to pick his team for his racehorses and we will respect his decision.

"The fact is we are going to continue to use him, but on the other hand, Saeed will have the right to make his own decision.

"You say that we pay a lot of money to have James – and we do. But we pay a lot of money for horses as well and ultimately, you have got to allow Saeed to make the decisions that he feels best suit his yard. I have absolutely unswerving faith in the fact that he can make those right decisions.

"It is my job to fly around the world, going to America and Australia overseeing the world operation that is Godolphin. It is the trainers' jobs to train those horses in their care and maximise their chances.

"I think Charlie (Appleby) is very happy at the moment. When William (Buick) is not available, he asks James. There is no reason to change that.

"Saeed has the right to do what he wants to do. Saeed is not saying James is not a great jockey, he is just saying that sometimes he wants to use other people – and that's his choice."

Earlier in the day, Angus Gold, long-standing racing manager for Sheikh Hamdan, had played down the speculation that Doyle had already been lined up to replace Hanagan.

Gold said: "Nothing has been said to me – that's the first I have heard of it this morning."

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