06/21/2017 9:03AM

Doyle skips trip to Europe to focus on Ellis Park meet

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Keeneland/Coady Photography
Jockey Sophie Doyle

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sophie Doyle could have been on a whirlwind trip to Europe, but duty called.

Doyle, perhaps as much as anyone on this side of the pond, is taking a fervent interest in this week's Royal Ascot meet. Her younger brother, James, has become a world-class jockey who won the Group 1 St. James’s Palace on Tuesday aboard Barney Roy for Godolphin.

“I’d love to be there this week,” said Sophie Doyle, the Kentucky-based jockey who grew up in her native England riding horses alongside her brother. “But I’ve got work to do here.”

After Royal Ascot, Sophie Doyle could have stayed overseas to ride in the Lady Jockeys’ Thoroughbred World Championship, a new women-only jockey challenge to be held July 4 at Bro Park just outside of Stockholm, Sweden. Doyle was among those invited to participate, but she felt compelled to send her regrets. The jockey challenge is drawing riders from around the globe.

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“I want to get a good start at Ellis Park,” Doyle said, referring to the western Kentucky track that starts its summer meet with a four-day weekend July 1-4 after Churchill Downs ends June 30. “If I was like Rosie Napravnik and well established, it’d be different, and I could be free to go. I’d love to go next year if they invite me again. But I want to make an impact at the beginning of the Ellis meet if I can.”

Priorities are a major factor in the ambitious agenda that Doyle, 30, laid out for herself years ago. Since riding her first winner on Nov. 26, 2014, at Churchill, she has strived to make inroads in the Kentucky jockey colony.

She rides here year-round, including Turfway Park in the winter and Ellis Park in the summer, working most mornings at Churchill or Keeneland. Her career win total through last weekend stood at 139, with the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America in 2015 at Keeneland being the biggest of her four stakes wins. Donnie Richardson, the former longtime Churchill racing official, is her agent.

Doyle watched her brother win the St. James’s Palace on TVG between breezing horses Tuesday for trainer Chris Davis at Keeneland. One day, she hopes, it will be her riding a winner at Royal Ascot, maybe even for Wesley Ward, who famously sent out Lady Aurelia to win for the second straight year Tuesday.

“That’s a goal,” she said. “I told Wesley I wanted to ride a winner for him at Royal Ascot, and he got all bright-eyed and said, ‘I like that idea.’ We’ll make it happen one day.”