Unbridled affection as Doyle and Marquand keep romance on track

London (AFP) –


Hollie Doyle is the "boss", according to boyfriend and fellow jockey Tom Marquand, but as far as she is concerned, he is "the romantic".

However, on Saturday, honours were shared at British Champions Day at Ascot.

Doyle had gone 2-0 up after the first two races -- including her first Group One success on Glen Shiel in The Sprint.

However, Marquand, 22 and two years younger than Doyle, fought back to level at 2-2 in the feature race, the Champion Stakes, on Addeybb, and then the last with Doyle finishing second.

"It is ridiculous. How could you write that?" said Marquand.

"It will be a happy house tonight. We are so lucky to be with each other since I was 14."

Marquand generously conceded that Doyle had carried the day but he has got used to it.

For in his first competitive ride in a pony race he had to watch as his mount got stuck in the mud and Doyle won the contest.

Doyle hails from a horse racing family -- her Irish father is a former jockey and her mother rode in Arab races -- whilst Marquand's was more centred around horsepower and car racing.

Such was Marquand's passion for riding he struck a deal with his father Richard when he said he wanted to take the family and go on a two year sailing trip.

"I said I would do it provided I could ride at every place we stopped," Marquand told The Times this week.

"And I did everywhere bar Morocco, I rode a Shetland pony in Corsica, an Arab Stallion up in the mountains in Sardinia and a huge big horse on the sands near Almeria."

Those experiences served him well and he was crowned champion apprentice in 2015.

Doyle took a bit longer to earn her spurs on the racecourse but 116 winners last year and bettering that this week -- a record for a female jockey in Britain -- confirmed her meteoric rise.

This season has also seen her win for the first time at Royal Ascot with her maiden success at group level coming at Newmarket.

- 'Pass as children' -

Doyle, though, is more pleased by one thing than any other.

"I am really happy at people seeing me as a jockey not a female jockey," she said.

She is presently fourth in the jockeys' championship as the season nears its climax and inevitably questions arise as to whether she could actually win it some time in the future.

"To be champion jockey would be an absolute dream, but we will see how it goes," she said.

"I am in fourth in the table at the minute and I can't really do any more than I am doing.

"I think people sometimes think jockeys sit back and think 'I might try and be champion this year', but realistically most of us are trying as hard as we can all year round."

Success has not gone to the heads of the couple.

"She was recognised by a taxi driver the other day!" joked Marquand.

"But we pass as children normally."

Marquand tasted his first classic win this year on Galileo Chrome in the English St Leger.

That, though, can be set aside for the moment as Marquand planned a quiet celebration after their headline-grabbing exploits at Ascot.

"I've booked a place up the road, I hope it is alright!" said Marquand.

As to whether he is summoning up the courage to propose marriage one ingredient is missing.

"I have not got the ring."