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Doyle superb aboard ‘Cat’ on Caulfield debut: Ghaiyyath excites in Paris comeback

J A McGrath

When James Doyle took a brief stint as Godolphin’s No 1 jockey in Sydney 22 months ago, he admitted to one major ambition — to ride a G1 winner in Australia.

This he achieved at Caulfield on Saturday with a memorable display in the saddle aboard gutsy Jungle Cat, ‘lifting’ the son of Iffraaj to victory right on the line in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes after having ridden him vigorously for the final 600m of the race.

He put his whip down in the final few strides, thrusting his hands forward to gain a response in the shadow of the post.

“I really didn’t know where the line was,” Doyle said, admitting to riding on instinct. “It’s not like the UK (where there is a big red and white lollipop marking the finish), and I was just glad I had ridden in the previous race and walked the track,” he added.

Doyle was in no doubt that the experience he gained when riding regularly in Sydney had improved him as a jockey.

“It has made me sharper, and I feel I have learned a lot about the importance of being tactically aware in a race,” he pointed out.

Doyle was completing one of the longest hit-and-run raids in international racing. He touched down at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport early Saturday morning, and he jetted out 14 hours later, having collected his eagerly-sought Aussie G1.

Unfortunately, he also picked up a seven-day ban for causing interference on Folkswood, who finished last in the G3 Naturalism Stakes half an hour earlier.

Trainer Charlie Appleby, who had pinpointed the Rupert Clarke for Jungle Cat six months ago, is now looking at running him in the G1 Toorak Handicap, over 1,600m, back at Caulfield on Saturday, 13 October.

“I think he will be suited by ‘the mile’ in Australia, while Folkswood was disappointing but has come out of the race fine, and we might consider either the G3 Geelong Cup or Bendigo Cup for him next,” he added.

While Appleby was flying back to Europe, his well-regarded Ghaiyyathinfo-icon made an exciting return to the racecourse when slamming his rivals in Saturday’s G3 Prix de Prince d’Orange at Longchamp, France.

“Will (Buick, who was aboard) said Ghaiyyath had impressed him the way he picked up and galloped to the line. I will discuss with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed where we go next with this very progressive colt,” he pointed out.

Ghaiyyath had been considered a Derby colt before niggling problems ruled him out of Epsom.