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James Doyle won last year’s 2,000 Guineas on Coroebus Credit: Edward Whitaker

James Doyle, who is no relation of Hollie Doyle, joins growing concern

Peter Scargill (Racing Post)

James Doyle will quit Godolphin to ride for the Emir of Qatar’s fast-growing Wathnan Racing operation in 2024, a move the jockey described on Monday as an “amazing opportunity”.

Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim, whose brother Sheikh Joaan operates Al Shaqab Racing and cousin Sheikh Fahad acts as principal for Qatar Racing, has rapidly expanded his racing interests this year, and celebrated a Royal Ascot double courtesy of Courage Mon Ami in the Gold Cup and Gregory in the Queen’s Vase.

Doyle, 35, partnered the Sheikh Tamim-owned Ballymount Boy to victory in the Listed Prospect Stakes at Doncaster on Saturday, and will be seen more regularly in the owner’s blue, beige and red silks next year.

He said: “It is a tremendous honour for me to sign for Wathnan. It’s an amazing opportunity for me going forward with His Highness Sheikh Tamim’s Wathnan Racing and I’m greatly looking forward to working with Olly Tait, Richard Brown and the rest of the team.”

Doyle will leave Godolphin at the end of 2023 after spending nine years retained by Sheikh Mohammed’s organisation having previously ridden as number one jockey for Khalid Abdullah.

Initially, Doyle was signed to ride as number one to Saeed bin Suroor with William Buick holding the same role with Charlie Appleby. However, Doyle lost his position with Bin Suroor in 2016 and was absorbed into Appleby’s team at Moulton Paddocks, where he predominantly rode as second jockey to Buick.

Doyle said: “I want to thank His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, Charlie Appleby and everyone at Godolphin for the unstinting support they’ve given me over the last nine years.

“It’s been a wonderful time and I have enjoyed literally every moment, but this is an incredible new venture and I can’t wait to get started in January.”

Olly Tait, who formerly worked for Sheikh Mohammed’s breeding operation, Darley, before joining Wathnan Racing as an adviser last year, labelled Doyle as an “incredible addition” to the burgeoning power.

“Wathnan is delighted to have retained the services of James Doyle,” Tait said. “He’s a fantastic rider and an incredible addition to the team. We’re all looking forward to working closely with James in the coming years.”

Doyle secured numerous top-level successes for Godolphin, including last year’s 2,000 Guineas on Coroebus and the King’s Stand Stakes – Diamond Jubilee double on Blue Point in 2019. He also guided the likes of Barney Roy, Ribchester, Wild Illusion and Jungle Cat to Group 1 wins in the famous blue silks.

Appleby provided Doyle with many of his biggest Godolphin wins, and said: “James has been a key member of our team for his whole time with us and, while we will miss him greatly, he’s leaving very much with our blessing and we wish him all the very best with this exciting new chapter in his riding career.

“James and I enjoyed many big days together on the racecourse, not the least of which was Coroebus winning the 2,000 Guineas last year, but he also rode a number of other stable stars like Blue Point and Naval Crown. We will continue to use James whenever his new commitments permit because he’s a world-class jockey.”

There were no plans to appoint a replacement for Doyle as number two rider at Godolphin, according to their UK and Dubai managing director Hugh Anderson, who added: “James has been a fantastic jockey for Godolphin over nine years – Blue Point’s fabulous sprint double at Royal Ascot and Coreobus’s 2,000 Guineas rank high among many other triumphs in the blue silks.

“He’s a top professional and it has been a pleasure having him on the team and we thank him for his service to Godolphin. We all wish him every success with his new operation.”