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James Doyle On Shaquille’s Sprint Cup Chances

James Doyle believes Shaquille  is potentially the best sprinter he has ridden but warned the start will be the key to completing a group 1 hat-trick Sept. 9.

The top jockey is looking forward to getting back on the high-class 3-year-old, who is the early favorite for the Sprint Cup (G1) at Haydock after top-level wins in the Commonwealth Cup (G1) (under Oisin Murphy) and July Cup (G1) (Rossa Ryan). However, Shaquille missed the break at Royal Ascot and Newmarket, and Doyle fears doing the same on Saturday will make him vulnerable.

He said: “The weight-for-age allowance is catching up with us. He got 6 lbs. off the older horses in the July Cup and that’s brought back to 2 lbs. so that does tighten things up and you pray we can jump off and get a clean start.”

Doyle was on board for Shaquille’s first two wins this season and sat on him again at Julie Camacho’s Malton yard during the Ebor meeting as the team worked on improving his starting technique.

“We made some minor adjustments, just lifting the rug off him slightly before he jumps out,” the jockey said in a Qipco British Champions Series media call. “From my experience a lot of horses do tend to jump a touch slower when the rug’s on.

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“He jumped cleanly the two times we jumped him out on the Malton gallops. Do I think he can still do it if he misses the break? I genuinely believe in the engine this horse has but it would certainly make things a lot trickier, given we’re not getting so much weight.”

Doyle has no doubt about Shaquille’s ability and said: “I can’t remember a horse missing the break by five lengths and winning a group 1 sprint. Once you get that slow start you’re almost out of the game.”

Asked if he could be the best sprinter he has ridden, the jockey said: “He has the potential to be. It would be foolish for me to say he is at this stage. I’ve ridden some really good sprinters, Blue Point  being the best. Saturday will give me a good indication but he’s certainly heading in the right direction.”

All the other entries for Saturday’s £400,000 contest are priced at 8-1 or bigger, but Doyle picked out several potential dangers in a race he won on Hello Youmzain  in 2019.

“Run To Freedom is a big price considering he wasn’t far behind in the July Cup and the weight-for-age allowance is a bit smaller so I could see him running a big race,” he said.

“Spycatcher is pretty solid, he hasn’t run any particularly bad races this year, while Saint Lawrence seems to be revitalized since he’s changed stables. He won at Ascot and ran a super race in France.

“Mill Stream has been supplemented and I was pretty happy with the way he won in France. And Regional is a pretty smart horse stepping up to six furlongs and wasn’t beaten far behind Highfield Princess in the Nunthorpe.”

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