The West Midlands isn’t usually known for its flat racing pedigree. If you’re from this area, you’ll know that we hang our racing hats on the Skeltons, occasionally referred to as the English O’Briens. That’s some compliment, so it’s not hard to see why we follow the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals so closely.
However, another narrative is emerging for West Midlands residents, and it revolves around the 2021 Flat Jockeys’ Championship. With Tom Marquand and Hollie Doyle both in contention, it’s feasible that the couple could be fighting it out for the title come the autumn. For the West Midlands, that means looking out for the following nags.
Every winner counts when the scores are tallied at the end of the season. Still, it’s nice to dominate classic events and take the PR and exposure that comes with it. For Marquand, that means heading to the Coral-Eclipse in July with high hopes of taking on Mishriff and Love. While the horse racing betting ranks him as a 10/1 outsider, the horse racing predictions believe this runner has what it takes to upset the odds.
To begin with, Marquand and Addeybb were very impressive in 2020, taking the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in Australia and finishing a close second to Lord North Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot. Last April, the duo retained their QE Stakes down under, highlighting why the gelding was rated the third-best racehorse in the world at the end of 2020.
At 10/1, Marquand has his work cut out, particularly if he wants to beat his partner, yet the likes of Addeybb prove the Cheltenham-born jockey who grew up in the Cotswold Hunt is in with a shout.
Archie Watson’s Sherbet Lemon is 33/1 for the Epsom Oaks, which isn’t anything to write home about. However, Doyle, born and bred in Herefordshire, is riding a runner that is going under the radar after winning a Lingfield trail a couple of weeks ago.
Of course, it’s about more than a single race, something that Doyle understands after her stratospheric rise in recent years. In Sherbet Lemon, she has a horse that is almost guaranteed to slug it out in the big races and offer her the opportunity to add to the 78 winners she has already accumulated.
Archie Watson doesn’t have as many runners as he would like, but the fact Sherbet Lemon is rated at 7/1 for the championship is testament to her ability and the faith punters and the bookies have in Doyle’s jockeyship.
Doyle is riding high after her third place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year of 2020. Wouldn’t a championship just top that?
Will It Happen?
If you go on odds alone, it appears as if Oisin Murphy (10/11) and William Buick (2/1) will bolt out of the gates and won’t be caught. After all, they are on retainer for some of the biggest yards and syndicates in the sport, such as Ballydoyle and Godolphin. Regardless, Marquand and Doyle have enough rides booked for the whole of the West Midlands to cheer them on to success.
If not, there’s always the National Hunt season and Cheltenham to look forward to with Dan and Harry Skelton!