Vote Hollie! That’s the message from ‘horse racing’ as the sport unites behind pocket rocket Hollie Doyle in tomorrow night’s annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony. 

In reality, Doyle is up against in when you consider the only previous jockey to land the prestigious title is AP McCoy and opposition is headed by the unstoppable Lewis Hamilton.

However, just to be in the mix is something Doyle and racing can be proud of and celebrate win, lose or draw. 

Doyle has been given special dispensation by the BBC to attend Sports Personality of the Year, which is held in Salford, even though she is required to ride in France on Saturday. 

Under normal Covid rules, as an elite athlete Doyle would be required to stay at home apart from work which, in her case, would constitute riding out or going to the races. But it is a moot point whether attending a sports awards actually constitutes work. 

That apart, Doyle has enjoyed a stellar season with her 146 winners, breaking her own record for a female jockey in a calendar year. 

They include a first Group 1 on Glen Shiel in the Qipco British Champions Sprint, a first win for a female on Champions Day on Trueshan in the Long Distance Cup, a first Royal Ascot winner and a five timer at Windsor in August. She is the only female nominated for the year’s award. 

So, people, get behind ‘our’ girl and vote away. Like an election it’s important to neither feel Doyle can’t win or that one more vote might not matter. 

Remembering a recent 2000 Guineas hero, someone by the name of Churchill once said: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender… Good luck Hollie! And have a Yeeehaaa! 

On the racing front, all eyes on ITV today are at Ascot, where young pretender Thyme Hill goes up against established star Paisley Park for the second time this season in the feature Grade 1 Porsche Long Walk Hurdle. 

Unlike all the other divisions, there are few options for the crème de la crème of staying hurdlers, which means we get served up treat after treat. 

Paisley Park returned from a flop at the Cheltenham Festival to chase home Thyme Hill in the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, eventually finishing a length a length and a half behind the young pretender while giving the Philip Hobbs-trained victor 3lb. 


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The problem for Paisley Park today might be a lack of pace, with no absolute confirmed front-runner amongst the leading contenders. 

Thyme Hill appears tactically versatile, which might give him an advantage over Emma Lavelle’s Paisley Park who could be seen to best effect in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. 

Whatever the case they promise to serve up a dish to savour once again today in a race which also features the excellent Wetherby winner Roksana and Main Fact, bidding for an incredible ten successive win. 

Trained by David Pipe, Main Fact started off for the Pond House maestro off a BHA rating of 98, and is now on a mark of 154.

I was lucky enough to go and visit Main Fact at Nicholashayne last week for Sky Sports Racing, and he’s a funny so and so at home. It’s fair to say he only moves when you want him to, and he’s far from impressive on the gallops. 

That said, he seems to have an incredible will to win and who knows when that winning run will end? 

What I can tell you is this. Pipe will welcome any rain – the more the merrier – but he is a fraction concerned about going right-handed. Main Fact’s improvement has come on right-handed tracks. 

It was back in the day that David Bridgwater teamed up with David’s father Martin to land the Stayers’ Hurdle with Cyborgo, but the former rider now trains himself and has his stable star at Ascot in the shape of The Conditional. 

He only lacked a little condition when third behind Cloth Cap – napped in the column – in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury and has every chance of going two places better in the Good Luck Hollie in SPOTY Silver Cup at Ascot. 

You see, it’s that time of year for holly. Merry Christmas to you all. 


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