HOLLIE DOYLE again broke new ground when she became the first British female jockey to win a Classic by riding Nashwa to a thrilling victory in the French Oaks at Chantilly.
Doyle, 25, had become the first woman to be placed in a British Classic when she came third on the John and Thady Gosden-trained filly in the Oaks at Epsom earlier in the month.
And just 16 days later she powered the 7-4 favourite home to hold off La Parisienne by a neck in the French equivalent – the Prix de Diane.
“I was pretty confident after Epsom, but I feel so privileged,” she said.
“I’ve got a lot of people to thank. Without Imad Al Sagar (owner) I don’t know if I would ever have been in the position to get an opportunity like this.
“These types of horses are hard to come upon and I’m only 25, so I feel pretty lucky.”
After crossing the winning line, Doyle was congratulated by husband and fellow jockey Tom Marquand, who was seventh on Zellie in the race, which was first run in 1843.
“I think he was just as happy as I was,” she said. “We’re always pretty happy for each other, so I think he was delighted.”
A smart start from her low draw meant Nashwa was soon prominent and she travelled smoothly into the home straight alongside the well-fancied Agave.
After seeing her off, 50-1 shot La Parisienne powered home to throw down a late challenge, but Nashwa and Doyle knuckled down admirably to pass the post narrowly in front.
“I felt very vulnerable at the two-furlong pole, I’m not going to lie,” added Doyle.
“I didn’t really want to be where I was, but she was very relaxed and happy to be one off the rail with a bit of company either side.
“She’s versatile and responsive when needs be. When the second horse came to my girths my filly really dug deep, which was great to see.
“We felt coming back in trip was what she needs and it’s proven to be the answer. She retains a lot of class and I think she could be even better next year.
“But if you’d said to me three years ago that I would be riding in a Classic for Mr Gosden I’d have laughed.
“To be in this position is incredible and when you ride at this level, the trainer has done all they can and the owner has put you in position, it’s down to me on the day.
“I just expect a lot from myself and I don’t want to let people down. You have to prepare yourself to be at your best when given the opportunity and that’s what I try and do.”
Gosden was full of praise for Doyle, saying: “She’s hugely talented and horses run for her. She’s incredibly meticulous and hard-working and she analyses things properly.
“The race didn’t work out how we thought, but we did have the Plan B to stay forward if that occurred and she’s shown herself as a class rider, and the filly is a class filly who was beautifully ridden.
“I am proud and Thady is extremely proud because it’s the youth team teaming up again. It’s quite obvious that I’ll be surplus to requirements quite soon with the youthful Thady and Hollie!”
Nashwa looks set for a mid-season break before being prepared for a return to France in the autumn.
“She’s run in two Oaks, which is tough, but she seemed remarkably calm after the race and was having a very natural, normal blow,” Gosden added.
“One race that stands out is the Prix de l’Opera and I think if we make that our big target and come back from there, that would be the way to play it.
“I think she definitely deserves a freshen up and a summer holiday now.”