Record-breaking rider Hollie Doyle claimed her first Royal Ascot success with a last-gasp triumph aboard Scarlet Dragon in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes.
Doyle enjoyed a stellar 2019, riding 116 winners – more in a calendar year than any other female jockey, becoming only the third woman to reach a century after Hayley Turner and Josephine Gordon.
The Alan King-trained Scarlet Dragon was a largely unconsidered 33-1 shot for the finale on day four of the showpiece meeting and remained well back in the field rounding the turn for home.
However, Doyle kept her cool and managed to weave a passage between horses to pick up both the front-running West End Charmer and Deja, beating the latter by half a length.
Doyle becomes the third female jockey to ride a Royal Ascot winner after Gay Kelleway in 1987 and Hayley Turner, who on Thursday landed the Sandringham Stakes for the second year running aboard Onassis.
Doyle, who has regularly been in the winner’s enclosure since the resumption of racing, said: “I can’t talk, it feels amazing, it’s so weird I’ve done it on this horse, as he was my first big handicap winner as an apprentice so to do it on him and for Mr (Henry) Ponsonby (owner) is great.
“I used to find him incredibly keen as an apprentice, he was one of the reasons I knew I had to strengthen up. I have to thank Mr Ponsonby, he’s given me so many opportunities. I know this lad well now, the day we won the Old Rowley Cup I had to sit and suffer on him a bit, but he travels really well and it suited him today.
“This means a huge amount – you arrive every year with high hopes, but it’s very hard to come across winners.”
She added: “This is the icing on the cake given how well it has gone since the resumption. I can’t really put it into words and there are so many people to thank.
“Hayley has been there and done it and ridden Group One winners, I can hardly imagine doing that myself, but I know it’s possible one day.
“My aim is to improve year on year ability-wise so I’ve been lucky to get the opportunities, but I’ve still got a long way to go.
“I’ve finally for once in my life beaten Tom (Marquand, her partner) to something (Royal Ascot winner). Luckily we’re in separate cars so it won’t be an awkward journey home.”