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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Baker's duo: Buick and Doyle relishing new link-up with Classic-winning rider

James Doyle and William Buick praised outgoing agent Michael Haggas
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William Buick and James Doyle will soon have their rides booked by former weighing room colleague George Baker, and on Saturday the two jockeys thanked agent Michael Haggas for his part in helping propel the pair to the top echelons of the sport.

Haggas is due to link up with Baker in the coming weeks to begin a transitional period that will result in the Classic-winning rider taking over responsibility for two of the sport's top talents, who both have retainers with Godolphin.

"I've been with Michael a long time – since 2011 – and that's been a key part of my career," said Buick, who this year added the Derby to his rapidly growing CV of big-race triumphs.

Watch William Buick win the Derby on Masar

"We've worked very well as a team and achieved a lot of things. Michael will be dearly missed, but at the same time we're looking forward to working with George.

"He's a top man and was a very good jockey who rode at the highest level, while his knowledge of the sport is very good. We think he's the right man for the job and he thought the same."

George Baker: a Classic winner in the St Leger on Harbour Law two years ago

Those comments were echoed by Buick's close friend Doyle, who is also enjoying an outstanding season, capped by a King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes strike on Poet's Word and his association with star filly Sea Of Class.

"William was with him for a bit longer than me, but since I joined Michael we've had some fantastic success together," said Doyle.

"It's sad he's decided to take a backseat, but you have to respect that and I wish him all the best. We've had some great days and it's been a good team."

Like Buick, Doyle is relishing the link-up with Baker, who was forced to retire last year after suffering serious head injuries following a fall in Switzerland.

"I grew up around Lambourn, which is where George was based, so I've known him most of my life and he's been a great friend and big help over the years, on and off the track," he added.

See how James Doyle won the Irish Oaks on Sea Of Class

"He's a very likeable fella who's very level headed and respected in the industry."

Haggas spoke in similarly complimentary terms about his relationship with Buick and Doyle, saying they had become like family.

"I couldn't have worked for two better jockeys or better people," said Haggas, who started booking rides for jockeys in the mid-1980s and was agent to the late great Walter Swinburn. 

William Buick (near side) and James Doyle fight out the finish in this year's King George on Crystal Ocean and Poet's Word

"We're friends so will be talking a lot but I'll miss the day-to-day stuff horribly because you've no idea how attached you become to your jockeys.

"We've had some fabulous days and winning the Derby was great, but hopefully there are a few more Group 1s to come. I'm very pleased I'm leaving them with great jobs and right at the top of the tree, while I'd like to thank their owners and trainers, particularly Charlie Appleby, who couldn't have been more helpful."

Haggas, "a young 54" who also helps trainers with race planning, has decided his time in the role has now come to an end but hopes he will not be lost to racing.

"It's tough to leave William and James, but it isn't tough to leave the job," he added. "Being a jockeys' agent is 24/7 and the commitment is something I don't feel I can give any more, so I owe it to the boys to stop. But I'm only retiring from being a jockeys' agent and I'm not going to stop working."

A handover date has yet to be finalised but the new arrangement will be in place by the start of next year, if not sooner.

George Baker talks to Peter Thomas in The Big Read

Taking My Time: My Autobiography by George Baker will be published on Friday September 14 and is available to pre-order here

You might also be interested in:

Buick: it is the pinnacle of the sport, the holy grail, the be all and end all

James Doyle hoping to shave off extra 3lb for Arc favourite Sea Of Class

'I'd love to be champion': Andrea Atzeni enters title betting after agent switch


It's tough to leave William and James, but it isn't tough to leave the job
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