Jockey Sophie Doyle Back In The Saddle For TAKE2 Hunter/Jumper Finals - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Jockey Sophie Doyle Back In The Saddle For TAKE2 Hunter/Jumper Finals

“It’s pretty special to do this with a horse that I’ve had such a long relationship with,” Doyle said.

It's been almost two years since jockey Sophie Doyle has ridden in a race, but that doesn't mean that she's stopped competing. This weekend she'll be back in the saddle and hoping to get not to the winner's circle, but to the $20,000 TAKE2 Hunter & Jumper Finals at the Kentucky National Horse Show, held in Lexington, KY, at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The TAKE2 Hunter & Jumper Finals are open to qualified 2023 TAKE2 Thoroughbred League members competing in the TAKE2-affiliated Hunter and Jumper Divisions nationwide and will award $10,000 in prize money each in the TAKE2 Hunter and Jumper Divisions. The TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program highlights the accomplishments of retired racehorses in the sport horse world.

Pregnant with her first child, Doyle stopped riding races in December 2021. After Emilie was born in July 2022, Doyle took on multiple roles in racing, including breezing horses; representing Enviro Equine, which sells nutritional and grooming products; and ponying European horses at the 2022 Breeders' Cup.

The pony that she rode at the Breeders' Cup is Jaz N Tap, her first winner as a jockey in North America. Trained by Larry Demeritte, the bay son of Jazil had a modestly successful racing career. Jaz started 39 times over five seasons, and three of his four wins came with Doyle in the saddle.

Back in 2017, Doyle stopped by Demeritte's barn to see how Jaz was doing, and the trainer told her that he was going to retire the six-year-old and make him a pony.

“Larry looked at me and said, 'Why is your face lighting up like that? Do you want him?'” Doyle recalled.

She trained him first as a stable pony, then began working with him on cross-country, jumping, and dressage. Her options for showing were limited when she was an active jockey. Though all of her new roles keep her busy, she appreciates the opportunity to compete in the show ring more often.

“We finished second in two events,” she said, “and now we're going to compete this weekend, hopefully in the TAKE2 Final on Sunday.”

Because she began showing late this year, she hasn't accrued enough points yet to earn a spot in the Final, so she's hoping to earn a wild-card berth. Wild cards are given to the top five horses that compete in the TAKE2 Hunter and Jumper divisions at the Kentucky National Horse Show during the week leading up to the Finals.

Doyle expects to compete for the full season next year. She also said that she sees herself as something of an ambassador for the TAKE2 program, hoping that her presence will raise awareness of the opportunities for retired Thoroughbreds to compete.

“It's so great having the TAKE2 challenges out there,” she said. “There are so many classes around the United States, and I hope that we'll see a lot more people getting into it.”

Like so many other OTTB riders, Doyle sees Thoroughbreds as ideal for competition.

“They're already pretty natural athletes from racing, and they've been able to handle pretty much anything you throw at them,” she said. “They've already seen so much out there in the world, they're used to being around a lot of horses and having a lot of activity around them, so they don't get nervous. They just go out there and get the job done.”

A winner of five graded stakes races, including the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes in 2019 on Street Band, Doyle has been riding horses for pretty much her whole life, and despite all her success, she admitted that winning a blue ribbon with Jaz would be a significant accomplishment.

“It's pretty special to do this with a horse that I've had such a long relationship with,” she said. “We started off together, and now we're together in another career, taking a different path.”

Paulick Report Icon

Receive daily headlines, breaking news alerts, promotions, and much more!

Become An Insider

Support our journalism and access bonus content on our Patreon stream

Learn More