Anne Bullitt Biddle, Toby Wellesley, Peggy St. John Nolan - these are the legends that we spoke about in our last article. These are the glass ceiling breakers, the truly inspirational ladies who ‘fought the law and won’.
Now, we move on to our present day female equine role models. Let me introduce you to the amazing Susie Doyle. Susie hails from Tipperary in Ireland and, at just 23 years of age, they crowned her this year's P2P.IE Leading Lady Rider. After narrowly missing out on the 2018-19 Leading Lady Rider title, this year was Susie’s year. She recorded an impressive nine winners for the season - an amazing feat in itself. This was not only her statistically best season to date, but she registered a 50% strike rate for the season and recorded her first double in April at Stradbally. She is what legends are made of.
Susie, who continued to ride through the 18/19 season while attending college, began riding full time in 2021. Twice the ladies championship slipped through her fingers - it was not happening this year. While growing up Susie was always surrounded by horses - with her Mam running a riding school and her Dad training racehorses - you could say horses are in her blood. Both her parents are still very heavily involved in the equine industry and her brother and sister both ride. It’s truly a family affair. Susie wasn’t sure where her race riding would take or wanted it to take her but her rides on Sir De Champ took her from winning point to points to competing in the 2019 Cheltenham Foxhunters. 2019
When asked what her biggest achievement was, Susie really made me smile - ‘how could a lady's title not be one of the biggest equine achievements’ If this isn’t inspirational to a young generation of jockeys, I don’t know what is. With many other achievements under her belt, such as Champion Working Hunter in Dublin and jumping up to 1.20 - picking a biggest achievement is no easy task. Things have not always been easy for Susie with pressure being assumed on her because she has a very well known family. However, going to other yards and riding for different trainers such as Louise Lyons and Sam Curling gave her extra confidence to kick on. While the pressure was on to keep up, once the winners started coming so the confidence boost - the sky is now the limit for this amazing young lady who epitomizes the Equitas ethos.
“Never restrict yourself, always have confidence in your ability - if you want to achieve something, you can achieve it. I am able to do it”.
These are the words that Susie would tell her younger self and words, I think we could all do with telling ourselves! Imagine if more young ladies who wanted to enter the equestrian field heard these words - they really could take over the world. “Get your name out there - don’t just take a ride on any horse - get your name out with good people - work with good people. Ride out in different yards and improve your riding - this will in turn improve your race riding. Experience different yards and trainers but remember to take your time off in the Summer”
With ladies such as Ellen Whitaker, Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh to look up to when growing up, Susie credits these amazing women with role model status. They won races that had never been won by ladies before. However, it was the way in which she spoke about Noel Meade and Willie Mullins that gave me a unique sense of how amazing this sport really is. These two trainers have given many lady jockeys their start and continue to advocate for women. Susie grew up with Rachel Blackmore and admires her strength and capabilities. Lisa O Neill, an astounding lady who has won 2 Kerry Nationals, was very good to Susie, with words of encouragement always coming easily.
Susie is very adamant that anyone who has an interest in the equine world should go for a job in the industry. “Loyalty and hard work are the core values in the racing industry - anything you want to achieve if you put your head down and work hard, you can do it”. She has now started a new job in the IHRB and is unsure where her future in the racing industry will lead - I can guarantee you one thing. The future is beyond the stars for Susie Doyle - who, you can be sure, once she puts her mind to things, there is no stopping her.
If one change could be made in the industry, Susie has two! If people outside the racing industry could learn a little more about the horses and the people working with them before they would comment. Racing and horses are a way of life and take dedication and devotion. Weight is a very contentious issue in the industry, a possibility that people could weigh in without everyone being around might help.
Susie is a formidable lady, and I can’t wait to see where the world is going to take her. She is an inspiration to all young equestrians who are working their way towards the top - a true rising star and is everything that I believe Equitas stands for. She speaks so highly of all other female jockeys in the point-to-point scene and they will continue to annihilate that glass ceiling. Here is to the next generation who will grow up with the Equitas generation.