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English jockey James Doyle will ride for Godolphin in Australia while James McDonald is under investigation over a betting offence.

McDonald stood himself down after being charged with having an interest in a bet on star colt Astern in December last year.

“While we continue to support James McDonald over the period of the investigation, we also have a racing stable to run and James Doyle, who is a retained jockey for Godolphin, is one of the best jockeys in the world,” Godolphin managing director Henry Plumptre said.

“With the winter recess in the UK, he is available to ride in Australia for Godolphin and Sheikh Mohammed and we are delighted to have him.”

Plumptre says Doyle, who rides at a minimum 55kg, is likely to have his first race rides in Sydney on Saturday week while Godolphin will continue to use lightweight riders Brenton Avdulla and Tim Clark.

The 28-year-old Doyle was aboard Telperion when he finished fourth in this year’s Golden Slipper and was flown in to ride Complacent in last year’s Cox Plate.

Doyle is expected to arrive in Sydney on Monday and will be on a six-month visa.

Trainer John O’Shea said Godolphin was blessed to be able to get a world-class jockey like Doyle to step in.

“James has been a member of our team here in Australia in the past and has always fitted in extremely well,” O’Shea said.

“He’s been in good form this season and we’re looking forward to having a jockey with his experience joining the team.”

Doyle lost his position as first-choice rider for Saeed bin Suroor in September with the Godolphin trainer saying he wanted to match jockeys with individual horses.

Doyle has ridden 17 Group One winners in four countries and won the Group Two Middleton Stakes at York on Zipping Classic winner Beautiful Romance in May and won a Listed race on Caulfield Cup runner-up Scottish in July.

“I have really enjoyed my visits to Melbourne and Sydney to ride for Godolphin in feature races like the Golden Slipper and Cox Plate over the past two seasons,” Doyle said.

“This is a great opportunity to spend more time in Australia and I am looking forward to the challenge.”

 
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