Irish jockey Joe Doyle has returned to New Zealand to bolster the country’s riding ranks ahead of the new season.
The 27-year-old hoop enjoyed plenty of success in his first riding stint down under, winning 19 races this past season, three of those at stakes level, including the Gr.1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) aboard Pignan at Awapuni in April for Lisa Latta.
Shortly after, Doyle left New Zealand shores to return to his homeland for the summer and he was delighted to end his first season in New Zealand on such a high note.
“It was an absolutely fantastic way to cap off the year,” he said.
“I am so grateful to Lisa and her team, they do an absolutely fantastic job with the horses. They always look a million dollars and perform accordingly. I was delighted and hopefully it is the first of many over here.”
While in Ireland, Doyle spent most of his time on the Ready To Run Sale circuit, but lapped up the opportunity to spend some quality time with his friends and family.
“I rode one raceday, but mostly I was doing ready-to-run sales,” he said.
“The ready to runners is big business at home, as it is here. I had a few good clients to ride for and our last sale was fantastic. We ended up having a sale topper. It was fun and it kept me fit.
“I rode at four sales and had 10 rides at each sale, it was keeping me on the right side kilos-wise.
“I also spent time with my family which was great because usually in the summertime at home I am pretty busy. It was nice to have a break and get to spend time with everybody.”
Freshened from his break, Doyle is looking forward to attacking the new season back in New Zealand with vigour and is aiming to put in a full season before returning home.
“It was nice to get back and see everybody, but it is certainly nice to be back and busy and try to earn a few quid again. I am excited to get going again,” he said.
“I am back in Cambridge and I have been riding out all week. I am just trying to get back into the routine and get back riding out every day.
“The plan is to put in a full season here, so hopefully everything goes smoothly and I stay injury free.”
Despite coming back to a New Zealand winter, Doyle said it hasn’t been that much of a shock to the system and it’s the tracks that will be the biggest thing to get used to once more.
“I had my first few rides back yesterday (Saturday),” he said. “It’s a bit cooler, but it’s not too bad. Yesterday there was a lot of rain, but it wasn’t actually that cold.
“The biggest thing is the tracks are so much different. Our (Irish) tracks are up and down, and we seem to have longer straights.
“It is just something different and I enjoy the variety of home, whereas here a lot of the tracks are mostly level.”
Doyle is looking forward to reuniting with his Group One winner Pignan, but he is also excited about unearthing some more young talent on the track next season.
“Obviously Pignan is the big one I am looking forward to riding,” he said.
“Hopefully over the next couple of months I’ll start sitting on two-year-olds for various outfits and hopefully we can uncover the next one."