IN Racing
Doyle brings up century of NZ wins
Joe Doyle following his win aboard Hi Yo Sass Bomb in Saturday's Gr.3 Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at Trentham.
Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | March 18, 2024
Joe Doyle following his win aboard Hi Yo Sass Bomb in Saturday's Gr.3 Cuddle Stakes. Photo:Race Images

Jockey Joe Doyle has brought the luck of the Irish with him over to the other side of the world and is enjoying a standout season, bringing up his 100th win in New Zealand aboard the Kim Reid-trained Hi Yo Sass Bomb in the Gr.3 Cuddle Stakes (1600m) at Trentham on Saturday.

“It was fantastic, I can’t thank everyone enough. She (Hi Yo Sass Bomb) went really well and gave me a great feel, and I am delighted for Kim and her small team,” Doyle said.

Doyle tested the New Zealand waters last season and decided to return this term to have a decent crack at the New Zealand Jockeys’ Premiership, which he currently sits third, on 77 wins, behind Warren Kennedy (94) and defending champion Michael McNab (84).

As part of his 77 win haul this season, Doyle has accrued 10 stakes victories and nearly $4.1 million in prizemoney, exceeding his expectations for his second stint downunder.

“I had $4 million in stake money and 10 stakes winners as a couple of the goals, and I have got that far, so I am in bonus territory a bit now and have no plans on stopping.

“I am getting close to 300 (career wins) now, I am on about 280. If I could get 100 in a season and my own personal 300, I think that would be huge. I couldn’t be happier with how everything has gone.”

Doyle picked up his first elite-level win in New Zealand aboard the Lisa Latta-trained Pignan in the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Awapuni last year, and he has added a few more to his highlight reel this term.

“The (New Zealand 1000) Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m, aboard Molly Bloom) was massive. The Guineas is a race that everyone wants to win, in any jurisdiction, in any country,” he said.

“On a personal level, the Bonecrusher (Gr.1, 2000m, aboard El Vencedor) was special. It was nice to get a big one at Ellerslie, New Zealand’s HQ. That one felt very good.”

Doyle has enjoyed riding at Ellerslie since it resumed racing in January on its new StrathAyr track, and Doyle said it has given him a reminder of home.

“Ellerslie has its uniqueness that it is quite undulating and that is something that is a bit more familiar to me from home,” he said. “I feel quite comfortable riding around there and I feel the horses get into a good rhythm with me going around. It is a unique track with a lot of history, and it is a nice place to be.”

Doyle said there have been a number of different variables he has had to adapt to when it comes to the differences in riding in New Zealand compared to back in Europe.

“In comparison to Europe, a lot of the tracks here the straights are quite a bit shorter,” he said. “A lot of the racing here you are riding horses for turn of foot and speed late, whereas at home we tend to jump out, go a gallop, and it is an even run all the way around. It is something that took a bit of getting used to and I think I am getting better at it.”

It has been tough for the Irishman to be away from his family and friends, but he has built his own community in New Zealand and said he is enjoying his time downunder.

“I have my New Zealand family here with the likes of Tim and Margaret Carter, and Micky and Lauren Brennan,” he said. “They make me feel at home, which is a massive help. It has been tough being so far away for this long. I have been away from home for longer, just not this far away. That has been a mental test, but when you are getting winners every week, that certainly helps.”

Doyle felt the presence of home in Dunedin on Sunday, where he celebrated St Patrick’s Day following riding at Wingatui’s weekend meeting. While Doyle enjoyed a few quiet beverages, Guinness was flowing for many of his countrymen around the world, and he was kept up-to-date with their celebrations on social media.

“It is a massive bank holiday at home. I have been getting snapchats all morning, the boys have been going hard,” Doyle said.

“I have been lucky enough to have been in England, America and now New Zealand for St Patrick’s Day, and it is a great holiday celebrated world-wide.

“They are a great crowd down there (in Dunedin) and we had a beer after (the races). We didn’t go too mad, but it was a very enjoyable day. It just reminds you of a bit of home.”

While initially only planning to be in New Zealand for the season, Doyle said he hasn’t ruled out staying in his adopted country longer term.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “I am getting on well here and I am very comfortable. I have to be here a bit longer before I can even think about applying for residency, but it is certainly something on my mind. There is a high possibility that you haven’t seen the end of me yet.”