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  • Provincial Racing NSW


TO say it has been a year of mixed emotions for Newcastle’s NATHAN DOYLE would not be understating the truth!

Training a benchmark 58 winners with the season not yet over along with a record prizemoney haul of more than $2.7m – headed by first starter Rush Hour clinching a rich purse in the inaugural $500,000 The Debut at the Magic Millions meeting at the Gold Coast in January – is of course a huge positive.

Such results (185 winners in the last four seasons) have clearly established 35-year-old Doyle as one of the real bright lights in the State’s training ranks.

But it has also left him to ponder what might have been, and what could be in the future, given his horse numbers far outweigh the quantity of boxes he has to properly accommodate them.

Doyle’s success can easily be gauged from the fact that he will go into the new season on August 1 with 30 rising two-year-olds; a far greater list of “babies” than he has ever had.

“That’s a big difference to the seven or eight youngsters I usually start off with, and the breeders and syndicators have greatly supported me,” he told us this week.

“I haven’t had to buy a yearling myself at all.”

Winning races doesn’t present a drama for Doyle. However, having 100 horses on his books with no more than 40 boxes at Broadmeadow is indeed a problem.

“Our horses in work are scattered around a number of barns, and that makes it difficult to manage, especially in regard to staff,” he said.

“There has been no apparent progress on Newcastle Jockey Club’s proposed plan for a brand new stabling complex.

“Because of the current situation and the fact that you are always looking for the next good horse amongst the younger brigade, I’m forced to push out older horses to try to accommodate them, and see how they shape up.

“That’s not good for racing. It doesn’t help field sizes (some 6-race midweek city meetings at Canterbury as an example) and it’s very frustrating.

“We definitely need more boxes here.”

Doyle and partner Mel Gissing, an experienced horsewoman, relocated from Scone to Newcastle in October 2019 – and his career took off in spectacular fashion.

The winners quickly flowed, and have kept increasing.

Doyle trained 32 in 2019-20, 38 in 2020-21, and 57 last season. This season’s 58 has boosted his overall tally to 205 since preparing his first winner, Stop The Flow, at Narromine on December 10, 2012.

Muswellbrook born and raised, Doyle always wanted to train racehorses.

“Dad was great friends with trainer Neville Boyle, and I knew from an early age that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.

Doyle secured a trade as a boilermaker at the mines, but the lure of the track was too strong and he took out his licence in his early 20s.

The first horse he bought for himself and a group of mates turned out to be a good buy, but not immediately.

“I bought Chiliad as a tried sale in Sydney for $3500, but he had a tendon problem and needed to be rehabbed with a long spell,” he explained.

“He had won only one race at Newcastle when I got him, and took quite a while to break through for us.

“We finished up winning five races with him, and he was also runner-up at Eagle Farm at big odds in March 2014.”

Unsure whether he was in the wrong or his horses weren’t good enough, Doyle called a halt to his first training venture after nine winners in his first three full seasons, and headed to Sydney to learn more about the caper.

He worked for a number of years for leading trainers, father and son Peter and Paul Snowden at Royal Randwick and then Mark Newnham (now in Hong Kong) at Warwick Farm, gleaning as much as he could.

Doyle was with the Snowdens at a time when top horses such as Golden Slipper winner Capitalist, Oakleigh Plate winner Russian Revolution and dual The Everest winner Redzel were in their stable.

Russian Revolution, such a professional to use Doyle’s words, was his favorite – and rather fittingly, his biggest triumph to date was with one of that stallion’s sons Rush Hour in the inaugural The Debut 2YO Plate (900m) at the Gold Coast on January 14, and his great mate, jockey Koby Jennings was aboard.

“The race was only the second of the day and was delayed half an hour or so because of the very heavy conditions,” he said.

“After Rush Hour won, the remaining eight races were postponed until the following Thursday. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the track,” he quipped.

Doyle recalls he bought Rush Hour during a period of COVID restrictions on behalf of Sydney-based Calibre Racing Group at the Magic Millions yearling sale 12 months earlier.

“The Calibre boys couldn’t get to the Gold Coast and asked me to buy a yearling on their behalf,” he said.

“Newgate Farm offered Rush Hour, and their stud manager Jim Carey was adamant I should have a good look at the colt.

“We had a budget of $100,000 and I went beyond that to buy him for $130,000. Thankfully, he more than recouped it by earning just over $300,000 when won The Debut.”

Doyle brought Rush Hour back into work for another preparation, but didn’t continue with him after the colt had finished second in an 800m trial on the Beaumont track in early June.

“Unfortunately, he had a setback,” he said. “It wasn’t major but enough to keep him sidelined until probably next autumn.”

Having decided the time was right to go out on their own, Doyle and Gissing left Sydney and settled at Scone in 2018, starting off with three tried horses.

He could not have wished for a better start to his training career the second time around, winning at Dubbo on November 20 that year with Delchuzy, his first runner back, before stablemate Postmaster General was an unlucky second in the following race after being slowly away with 61kg and was narrowly beaten.

Understandably, there were tears all round after Delchuzy won as she was owned by Gissing at the time, and Koby Jennings was the rider.

Doyle had 18 boxes on a property just outside Scone and built up his team when the opportunity arose in the spring of 2019 to become a provincial trainer, based at Newcastle.

“There’s no doubt moving here has enabled me to attract a better quality of stock,” he said.

“Of my 58 winners so far this season, only 10 have been in the country. The remainder have been at the provincials and in town, and two in Queensland (Rush Hour at the Gold Coast and another Calibre horse Kipsbay, at Eagle Farm in March).”

As well as looking ahead to test his bevy of two-year-olds in the new racing season, Doyle also is keen to further his career by making his mark in stakes company in town.

He is yet to have a Group 1 runner, but has had a handful in Group 2, 3 and Listed grade for a couple of minor placings.

“Definitely I would like to keep improving my stock to have horses good enough to compete in the best company,” Doyle said.

“That’s no different to a kid playing football in the park. He wants to be an NRL player.

“Not everyone makes it of course, but you have to have dreams.”

Those dreams can come closer to reality in the near future if he is able to have more horses in work in the event the planned swish stabling complex at Broadmeadow becomes a reality itself!

HOOFNOTE: Doyle has Xpresso (Benchmark 78 Handicap, 1200m) and Norwegian Bliss (Listed Winter Challenge, 1500m) engaged at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday, but may wait with the former for a slightly shorter 1100m Benchmark 72 Handicap for three and four-year-olds at Randwick a week later.

He also has accepted with Wooloowin (Provincial Maiden Plate, 1100m) and Lady Harlem (Midway Benchmark 64 Handicap, 1200m) for Saturday’s Gosford meeting.

*Words John Curtis, July 20, 2023 - Pics Supplied*

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