Mike Cattermole: Doyle defence
Mike Cattermole leaps to the defence of demoted Godolphin jockey James Doyle while looking forward to Newmarket this weekend.
James Doyle: Won't suffer despite being demoted
Doyle demotion makes little sense
James Doyle is a top-class jockey, we all know that. So to hear this week that he was being effectively relegated by Saeed Bin Suroor came as a bit of a surprise.
When Doyle and his friend William Buick were signed up to Godolphin two years ago, this was widely seen as a shrewd arrangement that would stretch far into the future. Two young, supremely talented riders, who also know how to handle themselves out of the saddle.
Often when a trainer and jockey come to a crossroads like this, it tends to be on the back of a poor season. Certainly Bin Suroor, who let us not forget is a four-time champion trainer, has had a quiet time in 2016 with just 33 winners at the time of writing and a strike rate of just 17%.
Compare that to 2015 when he saddled 105 winners at 27%. Something has got to give and even if Suroor has been badly affected by the virus that has impacted on the majority of yards in Newmarket this year, there is no doubt that the personnel involved will feel the pressure and relationships can be impaired.
Bin Suroor trotted out the well-worn line that "Our policy will be to choose the jockey who best suits individual horses."
So, Buick replacing Doyle on Sky Hunter at Goodwood on Wednesday didn't wash. Buick had ridden the gelding once before – in last year's Melbourne Cup when Sky Hunter was well beaten. Doyle has won two from four on him and was placed on the other two occasions.
Over the years, Bin Suroor has shown himself to be a brilliant trainer, who, to these eyes, has never got the credit he has deserved. He is fully entitled to do what he thinks is best. His statement added: "James is a friend and a big part of the Godolphin team", but I guarantee Doyle will not be feeling either of those things right now. Who would?
Doyle will still be in much demand and opportunities will arise that would not have presented themselves without this news and he will be absolutely fine, if a bit bemused right now.
And, let's hope that Bin Suroor can finish the season with a flourish and gain a late Group One to maintain that extraordinary sequence of winning at the top level for every year since he started in 1995.
But he will know, deep down, that changing the jockey won't make a scrap of difference to how fast the horses will run.
Getting all juvenile this weekend
There is no sport like racing for celebrating its juniors.
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We have just had the Olympics and Paralympics, which have both been brilliant, but the junior athletes tend to remain and excel at their own level – in their own championships and we don't hear a huge amount about those athletes until they graduate to senior level.
In racing, we have no problem lauding the best two-year-olds and three-year-olds around, even if these younger horses get huge allowances from the more mature four-year-olds and upwards in the weight-for-age championship races. I often find it difficult to explain this to some who are just starting to get interested in the game.
That all said, who doesn't enjoy seeing how the two-year-olds develop throughout the season and trying to gauge what they will achieve at three?
I am much looking forward to seeing the rematch between Blue Point and Mehmas in the Middle Park Stakes on Saturday and the clash between Lady Aurelia and Queen Kindly, Frankel's swiftest daughter, in the Cheveley Park.
Lady Aurelia won the Prix Morny in spite of 'wheel-spinning" in the damaged Deauville turf; it certainly looked that way. Queen Kindly did the job very well in the Lowther but even so, an on-song Lady Aurelia is going to be very hard to peg back.
A lot will depend on how all of these youngsters handle the famous "Dip" on the Rowley Mile when valuable momentum can be lost and gained.
Mehmas beat Blue Point in the Richmond Stakes of course but a lot has happened since and Blue Point is 11-10 with Sky Bet to get his revenge, with the Hannon colt at 4-1.
Given that the Dewhurst may be off the radar after he didn't appear to stay behind Churchill in the 7f National Stakes, this might be the last time we see Mehmas, as 50% of him has been sold by Qatar Racing to the Tally Ho Stud in Westmeath, Ireland.
Packing a horse off to stud after just one season must be very commercially viable – Tally Ho clearly appreciate this, with former Hannon-trained one-season star juveniles Zebedee and Sir Prancealot also on their roster and doing well.
Poor Mehmas will never have the chance to show whether his diminutive stature would have prevented him from winning good races at three. It would not have been for the lack of trying as he really sticks his neck out and has a go. But you can understand why this decision has been made.
Megalala is just mega
That's why flat racing tends not to produce as many horses as the National Hunt game that the public can associate with and follow. Unless your name is Megalala!
This grand veteran of 139 races is going to stay in training as a 16-year-old, his trainer John Bridger announced this week. Bridger has a lot of older horses in his care and must be commended for keeping them happy and sound.
I asked him whether Megalala pulled out a bit stiff in the mornings – rather like your correspondent these days – but apparently he remains as light on his feet as ever. Ok, I want what he's having! Good luck to the old boy.
Dascombe team recovering well
It is just over a year now since Brown Panther was fatally injured when attempting to defend the Irish St Leger at the Curragh.
The loss of one of the most popular horses in training was so terribly sad, most of all to his proud owner-breeder Michael Owen who must have been dreaming of standing his star racehorse at stud. It was also a tremendous blow to the Tom Dascombe team, one that would take no quick recovery.
That said, last Saturday's Ayr Silver Cup triumph from Roudee was a bit of a landmark win for the Cheshire-based trainer as it took him to a personal best in seasonal prize money, overtaking the £693,229 he had set in 2014.
Roudee also made a little bit of history as he had also won the consolation race, the Silver Cup, for the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon last month. He has always been a very useful sprinter and, at this rate, will be challenging for the "real things" next season.
Kachy remains the stable's top earner this season, however, largely thanks to his second to Quiet Reflection in the Commonwealth Cup.
Replacing a horse like Brown Panther is near impossible but at least the stable is back on an even keel again.
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