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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Friendly rivalry helps Buick and Doyle scale fresh heights

Man of the moment: William Buick celebrates after his victory on Wild Illusion
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Ask your average man in the street to name a current jockey and, after no small amount of humming, hawing and Lester Piggotting, you are likely to get little further than those two titans of the weighing room: Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore.

However, this season the names on the lips of those who frequent racecourses and betting shops has not been Dettori or Moore, but the leading lights of the next generation, Godolphin's retained riders James Doyle and William Buick.

Thursday's Nassau Stakes victory, obtained via a confident front-running ride on Wild Illusion, was Buick's fifth Group 1 of a scintillating year that has already included two top-tier wins overseas and a first Derby victory on Masar, while Doyle is riding out of his skin with two Group 1s in as many weekends.

Just turned 30 and with a string of massive Group 1 victories to his name already, Buick could hardly be said to be enjoying a breakout season. Nonetheless, there is a sense that he, alongside his colleague and great friend Doyle, who together were snapped up by Sheikh Mohammed for Godolphin in 2014, are in the process of taking another step forward, perhaps even crossing that nebulous threshold that separates seasoned pros and excellent riders from the truly world class.

The pair are riding with confidence, regularly banging in big-race winners, helped no doubt by the flying form of the Charlie Appleby yard, but also driven on by their friendly rivalry, which dates back to their earliest days in the sport when the two were apprentices with no appreciation of the starry heights they would one day reach.

Poet's Word and James Doyle just deny the William Buick-ridden Crystal Ocean at the end of a thrilling King George
Last Saturday they faced off on the market leaders for the King George, both horses trained by Sir Michael Stoute, and in a gripping conclusion the pair stretched miles clear of the rest, Doyle's mount, Poet's Word, narrowly prevailing over Crystal Ocean in a ding-dong finish.

It was a thrilling climax to a great race, but also a fantastic tussle between the two jockeys who have arguably proved the season's standout riding talents.

Click here to watch Wild Illusion's Nassau Stakes victory

"The race on Saturday got plenty of press for being a great race and it was great to be part of it," said Buick. "It creates a good story between me and James.

"We're good mates and we've not always been at this level, but we've both worked hard to get here and long may it continue."

Buick, tongue in cheek, added: "For sure, there's a rivalry between us – it's a nightmare really, it's non-stop every day and we'll be knackered by the end of the season!"


EARNINGS (GB 2018 season)
Buick: £3,034,419
Doyle: £2,517,174

WINS (GB 2018 season)
Buick: 42
Doyle: 56

GROUP 1 WINS (2018 worldwide)
Buick: 5
Doyle: 5

Before then there promises to be plenty more big days for both men, with Wild Illusion likely to give Buick plenty more shots at Group 1 glory. The Darley Yorkshire Oaks is next up, likely followed by the Prix de l'Opera and perhaps capped by a tilt at the Breeders' Cup.

"She really deserves this," said Buick. "The aim is for every horse to fulfil their potential and I suppose this filly has always been a Group 1 filly so it's great." 

There is a sense, too, that Buick and Doyle are only now beginning to explore the far reaches of their own remarkable potential.

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For sure, there's a rivalry between us - it's a nightmare really, it's non-stop every day and we'll be knackered by the end of the season!
E.W. Terms
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