Racing: Apprentice shows skill, patience to score victory

By Mike Dillon

Shannon Doyle is a name you haven't heard much of, but you will.

The 25-year-old Maori from Rotorua, who lived in Sydney from age 7, looked like a premiership-winning jockey landing punt horse Pentathon home a narrow winner over the favourite Mandela at Hastings.

Doyle, a 3kg-claiming apprentice, worked for Graeme Rogerson in Australia and here before transferring to Pentathon's trainer John Wheeler.

Wheeler gave Doyle a top raceday chance after a barrier trials meeting.

"He rode seven or eight and looked like someone who had ridden 100 winners," said Wheeler.

Doyle had ridden only 10 winners and showed talent beyond his experience when he sat quietly on Pentathon between the 300m and the 175m despite being hotly challenged by Mandela.

When he asked Pentathon for his effort he drew clear, but came to the end of his run and Mandela edged back to be only half a head away.

Had Doyle pressed even 30m earlier he would have been beaten.

Gavin McKeon, who has the ride in the New Zealand Cup, watched the replay in the jockeys' room and couldn't believe what he was seeing from an inexperienced apprentice.

* Difficult to know who should get the prize - Darryl Bradley for his ride to win the Matamata Cup on King Of Ashford or trainer Karen Zimmerman to prepare him for such an effort.

Probably Zimmerman. She had to have the horse fit enough, yet leave enough in him for a flight to Melbourne tomorrow and a tough three-race carnival campaign.

Zimmerman said King Of Ashford blew after his effort to come from well back, shoulder 58kg topweight and blow his rivals off the track, which made it a spectacular performance.

Runner-up Arlingtonboulevard and third-placed Fiscal Madness are definites to follow.

* The Rain God made it two straight when he outgunned Sacred Sun in the $20,000 Maramarua Hunt Cup on the big jumps day at Paeroa yesterday.

Topweight Crown Dancer lost rider Lance Macfarlane at the double.

Great Northern winning rider Brett Scott made his trip from Melbourne worthwhile when won on Maximabeel and Adriatic.

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