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Three of Europe's riding stars in our midst - By Tom Krish

Posted on - 04 Feb 2016

Three of Europe's riding stars in our midst
- By Tom Krish
Three of Europe's riding stars will ply their trade at Mahalakshmi on Sunday. None of the three needs a formal introduction to Indian racing fans.
Pat Smullen, Kevin Manning and James Doyle are the three I am referring to. We will take a look at what they have done in the recent past.
Jockey Smullen, who is 38,  won 103 races from 554 rides in Ireland in 2015. That gave him a 19% strike rate. Those 103 victories gave Pat the jockeys' title  and it was the seventh time that he was the Irish riding champion.
Let us consider what jockey Smullen has done in his career. The unassuming Pat Smullen has been a credit to his chosen profession. He rides primarily for the legendary Dermot Weld.
Pat Smullen has ridden all over the world. He was won races in Ireland, England, France and in America. Jockey Smullen won the 2004 Irish Derby with Grey Swallow when the pair had the beating of North Light, winner of the Epsom Derby that year.
The Irish St Leger is open to older horse. Jockey Smullen has won the St Leger four times with Vinnie Roe. Refuse to Bend was Smullen's winning ride in the 2003 English 2000 Guineas. Rite Of Passage gave Smullen a victory in the 2010 Ascot Gold Cup.
In America, Smullenwon the first running of the Breeders' Cup Marathon in 2008 at Santa Anita with Muhannak. Another significant win Smullen had in America was with Dress To Kill in the 2002 Matriarch Stakes.
In 2015, Free Eagle gave jockey Smullen a well-deserved success in the Prince Of Wales States at the Royal Meeting.
I saw Pat Smullen and Covert Love make it all in the Prix de l'Opera in Paris on Arc day at Longchamp in October 2015. Smullen and Frankie Dettori, on Jazzi Top, went hammer and tongs down the Longchamp lane in the 2000-metre contest. It was the narrowest of verdicts. On October 17, I was at Ascot when Fascinating Rock, given a clever but patient ride by Smullen, used a rail-hugging move to win the Champion Stakes. It was vintage Pat Smullen.
I would strongly urge you to watch the 2015 Prix de l'Opera and the 2015 English Champion Stakes on Youtube.
We now come to Kevin Manning. He  may be the oldest rider in the Derby. He is 48. He rides for Jim Bolger, his father in law.
Jockey Manning has been a high-level fixture in the Irish riding fraternity. He won 59 races from 426 rides for a 14% strike rate in 2015.
Manning began riding for Jim Bolger when the brilliant Christy Roche left the stable in 1993. Jockey Manning  won the English Derby aboard New Approach in 2008. It is a 'must see' race. With about 500 metres to run, New Approach, in the rear, had a wall of horses in front. Manning was able to weave his way through. This again is a 'must see' race. I had a wager on New Approach at 6/1 and had to rub my eyes as I saw New Approach negotiate the traffic.
Trading Leather gave Manning a win in the 2013 Irish Derby. Manning has won in France, England and Hong Kong. Teofilo, Alexander Goldrun, FinscealBeo, Pleascach and Lush Lashes are some of the well known runners that jockey Manning has partnered.
Then there is James Doyle.  Jockey Doyle, 25, was in India in 2010-11. He was a relative unknown then. Doyle comes from a racing family. In 2010, jockey Doyle had reached a dead end in his career. He enrolled in a course to study plumbing. His Indian visit signaled a turn for the better. He won a high profile Dubai race with Cityscape, trained by Roger Charlton and owned by Khalid Abdullah. A contract with Khalid Abdullah was signed. More wins in big races came Doyle's way. Kingman gave jockey Doyle wins in the Jacques le Marois, the Irish 2000 Guineas, the St James' Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes in 2014. Noble Mission gave Doyle aemotional win in the 2014 Champion Stakes at Ascot. Noble Mission was trained by Lady Henry Cecil. A deal with the mighty Godolphin followed. Doyle now rides horses trained by Saeed Bin Suroor.
In 2015 in England, jockey Doyle won 121 races from 608 drives. It was a 20% strike rate.
Pat Smullenand James Doyle have been riding in Dubai and were in action on Thursday.  Kevin Manning has been riding  mainly at Dundalk, an all weather track in Ireland.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the author's personal views.)  

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