Hollie Doyle lands first Classic success as Nashwa wins French Oaks

Nashwa provided Hollie Doyle with her first Classic success after a thrilling victory in the Prix de Diane at Chantilly.

So impressive in winning her first two starts of the season at Haydock and Newbury, the Frankel filly was last seen finishing a creditable third in the Oaks at Epsom. Turning out 16 days later for the French equivalent, John and Thady Gosden’s youngster was the 7-4 favourite under her record-breaking rider and got the job done in determined style.

With a smart start from her low draw Nashwa was prominent from the off and travelled smoothly into the home straight alongside the well‑fancied Agave. After seeing her off, the 50-1 shot La Parisienne powered home to throw down a late challenge but Nashwa and Doyle knuckled down admirably to pass the post narrowly in front.

“It feels pretty good. When I was pulling up I couldn’t find the words to describe it really,” Doyle said. “I’ve got a lot of people to thank. Without [the owner] Imad Al Sagar I don’t know if I would ever have been in the position to get an opportunity like this. These types of horses are hard to come upon and I’m only 25, so it’s relatively early on in my career and I feel pretty lucky.

“I felt very vulnerable at the two-furlong pole, I’m not going to lie. It was a muddling race and I felt beforehand someone would be a bit more decisive pace-wise than they were. I didn’t really want to be where I was but she was very relaxed and happy to be one off the rail with a bit of company either side. She’s versatile and responsive when needs be. When the second horse came to my girths she really dug deep, which was great to see.”

The rider was congratulated shortly after her victory by her husband, Tom Marquand, who finished seventh aboard Zellie. Doyle added: “I think he was just as happy as I was. We’re always pretty happy for each other, so I think he was delighted. I was pretty confident off the back at Epsom. We felt coming back in trip was what she needs and it’s proven to be the answer. She retains a lot of class and I think she could be even better next year.”

John Gosden was full of praise for Doyle, saying: “She’s hugely talented and horses run for her. She’s incredibly meticulous and hard-working and she analyses things properly. I am proud and Thady is extremely proud because it’s the youth team teaming up again. It’s quite obvious that I’ll be surplus to requirements quite soon with the youthful Thady and Hollie!”