HOLLIE DOYLE has revealed how she overcame heartbreaking personal circumstances to land a winner for her mum – on the day she had a breast cancer operation.
The superstar jockey raced at Goodwood the same date beloved Caroline went for surgery and said: “I just wanted mum to wake up and be happy.”
Hollie’s victory on Trueshan – which her mum came out of theatre just in time to watch on her mobile phone – marked an incredible personal and professional triumph.
And three months on dad Mark still fights back tears recalling his pride at his daughter’s emotionally-charged victory, for herself and her ‘tight-knit’ family.
No one apart from Hollie’s closest loved ones knew at the time.
But she reveals the personal nightmare she was living through in new ITV4 show Against The Odds: Hollie Doyle: Trailblazer.
Hollie, who finished third in last year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, was riding the crest of the wave after June's Royal Ascot.
She recorded her second Royal winner on Amtiyaz before thousands of fans – a year after she claimed her first aboard Scarlet Dragon in front of stands left deserted due to Covid.
But her life was about to be turned upside-down three weeks later when, on July 5, her mum got diagnosed with breast cancer.
Caroline’s operation was booked for July 27, the same day Hollie was down to ride superstar stayer Trueshan at Glorious Goodwood.
After being pulled out of Ascot’s Gold Cup, Hollie and trainer Alan King were desperate to make amends at Goodwood, especially with everything set up perfectly for them to triumph.
Everything, except the wellbeing of her mum.
'I WANT TO WAKE UP AND KNOW YOU'VE WON'
Caroline explained: “I got diagnosed with breast cancer on July 5. I had the operation on July 27, the date of Goodwood.
“Hol rang me in the morning or the night before, saying, ‘I should be with you’.
“I said there's nothing you can do and I said all I want you to do… 'I want to wake up and know that you've won on Trueshan'.”
Hollie knew her mum wanted her to ride – but she still had to win an internal battle to convince herself to go.
The jockey said: “I just felt really bad, I just felt like such a bad person that I couldn’t be there with her.
“It was probably the first time in my life I felt a bit of pressure. Usually I’m quite relaxed. Maybe I'm good at covering things up.
“But we were all very worried. It’s your worst nightmare.
“I wanted my mum to wake up and feel good, feel happy, to give her something to be happy about.”
With her trailblazing daughter at the West Sussex track, Caroline counted down the minutes until she had surgery, desperate for it to finish in time for her to watch the race.
She said: “It was getting later and later in the day and I kept thinking, ‘when are they going to take me in?’
“Anyway, eventually I came out of the theatre and I looked at the clock and it was 3 o'clock.
“I said to the nurse, 'my daughter's riding at 3.35 in a big race, is there any chance I can be back at the ward by then?’
“He said, 'I'll do everything I can to get you there'. Well, I went to the ward like I was in a rally car in the bed!
“I got there just in time, it was about half past. I got my phone and set it up just in time to watch it.”
'A DAY WE'LL NEVER FORGET'
Hollie and the horse never looked like losing and she cruised home by almost four lengths, landing a winning cheque of £295,000 in the process.
Money was irrelevant though – even if you had backed her going on to win another two races on the card for a stunning 123-1 treble.
What did matter was that it was a miracle day in more ways than one.
Proud dad Mark, welling up recalling the day, said: “It was like a blur. To see her be so professional when there was a lot going on.
“Two trump cards came at once – Hollie riding the Group 1 and Caroline getting the all clear from the operation.
“Whatever she achieves in her career, that day will mean so much to me because it’s made me realise there’s more to life.
“Look how happy we are and what we've got.
“I was sat in the house watching it on tele, rolling round on the floor bawling my eyes out.
“She doesn’t do dismounts, she doesn't do fist punching or any of that, she just did it for her little mum.
“It's a day we'll never forget.”
Against The Odds: Hollie Doyle: Trailblazer ITV4 9pm Tuesday.
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