Hollie Doyle fears for horse racing’s future without crowds as SPOTY nominee admits it’s difficult to sustain the sport

6 mins read

HOLLIE DOYLE worries for the future of racing if fans still cannot attend in 2021.

The sport is being staged safely behind-closed-doors but racetracks up and down the land badly need the income of punters through their gates.

PA:Press Association

Hollie Doyle is concerned about the future of horse racing if fans cannot attend in 2021[/caption]

Getty – Pool

Race tracks around the country remain deserted[/caption]

The UK lockdown and the global Covid-19 pandemic have had a harmful impact on the industry, which involves 10,000s of people on a daily basis.

And Doyle, 24, said: “It will be hard without crowds.

“We can continue to race, we have proven that we can adapt and keep the show on the road like we did when everyone else was in lockdown.

“We managed to keep racing going but the longer we have no crowds, you know owners aren’t able to go racing.

“It will become increasingly difficult to sustain everything.

“There is a huge food chain involved. At the moment it’s very stretched and I don’t know how much more it can take.

“But everyone is doing all they can to keep things up and running.”

On Sunday night, Doyle was voted into third place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for her outstanding year in the saddle.

This follows her exceptional displays at Royal Ascot on Scarlet Dragon in the summer and the Champions Double at Ascot two months ago.

PA:Press Association

Doyle rides Little Sunflower to victory in the 2:35 at Lingfield on Monday[/caption]

Sir Tony McCoy was voted the BBC SPOTY winner in 2010 for his Grand National victory, while flat jockey Frankie Dettori came third in 1996 behind Damon Hill and Steve Redgrave.

For Doyle, there was no rest for the wicked as she was back in the car yesterday morning, driving from the MediaCityUK ceremony in Salford to Lingfield for five rides — and won the 2.35 on 8-1 shot Little Sunflower.

She has another six booked for Tuesday.

McCoy, 46, praised Doyle at the awards ceremony. He said: “Hollie is a worker, she’s a grafter, she puts in the hard hours, which is what it is all about to try to get to the top.

“Her stats are phenomenal, she is top class, she has got it all. Having watched Hollie Doyle over the last year, there is a realistic chance she could be Champion Jockey one day.”

Doyle, whose boyfriend Tom Marquand is also a star jockey, responded: “I grew up watching AP McCoy ride, watched his journey and success.

“For him to say these kind words about me is unbelievable.

“I think I have broken any expectations that I had of myself. And I’ve broken a few barriers as well.

PA:Press Association

Doyle came third in Sunday’s BBC SPOTY awards [/caption]

“I hope that it can encourage people who don’t expect themselves capable of doing things.

“My greatest achievement? Well, the best day of my year, of my life so far, was probably the Champions Day, bagging my first Group One winner. That was an incredible day.

“I always try to better the year I have had before.

“I know it will be hard to do better than I have this year but I will give it a go.”

Doyle’s rapid rise up the standings has brought further reward with a coveted retainer from Classic-winning owner and breeder Imad Al Sagar.

She added: “I’m looking forward to next year particularly because I have my new retainer with Imad Al Sagar. So we will see how that goes.”

Doyle, the only woman on the SPOTY shortlist, finished behind Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson and winner Lewis Hamilton.

She said: “It felt unbelievable to pick up the third-place trophy.

“It felt like I was picking it up for our industry as a whole not myself.

“I’m really proud to be part of the horseracing industry. Things like this don’t seem to happen to people like me.”

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