Tuesday 21 January 2020

Turner makes Royal history

Hayley Turner
Hayley Turner

Hayley Turner became only the second female jockey - and first since Gay Kelleway 32 years ago - to ride a Royal Ascot winner when Thanks Be triumphed in the Sandringham Handicap.

Turner got Charlie Fellowes' 33-1 shot home in front by a neck from the British Queen's Magnetic Charm over the straight mile.

Reflecting on her success, Turner, who had a brief spell in retirement before returning to the saddle, said: "The girls' changing rooms are full now - and it was only a matter of time.

"Gay Kelleway was obviously the first, and great respect to her. It is certainly overdue and the girls have been doing so well, since I first started riding, to the standard they are now.

"Nicola Currie was close and Hollie Doyle and Josephine Gordon have had good rides here. Everyone is like, 'why are no girls winning', but numbers are rising and it will happen in time.

"It was just a thrill to have a winner for Charlie, who is an up-and-coming trainer to keep in with. It does mean a lot and the whole girl thing, it is just going to get better and better for them.

"Nothing is going to happen overnight, but if you look at this in 10 years' time I bet a lot more girls have done it. It will become a common thing and the media won't care that much, as it will become normal."


Turner, who was joint champion apprentice in 2005, is the first woman to ride 100 winners in a year and is a three-time winner at Group One level, added: "She was an outsider and you could only be so confident, but I am in slight disbelief.

"I was going to persevere and if it wasn't this year I would have had another go next year.

"It is great for Charlie, as it is his first winner. I have had a few places, I was second in the Albany one year and I finished third in one of the handicaps and I've been knocking on the door. It's great."

Turner announced her retirement in November 2015, and spent some time as an ITV presenter, but the lure back to riding was too strong and she has been back full-time riding again since 2018.

Her victory comes after Bryony Frost made history in March when becoming the first female rider to partner a Grade One winner over jumps at the Cheltenham Festival.

Chantilly trainer Francis-Henri Graffard completed a fairytale week when Watch Me sprang a 20-1 surprise in the Coronation Stakes after Channel had given him his first French Classic success in the Prix de Diane on Sunday.

Watch Me was a forgotten filly in the Group One feature on the fourth day of Royal Ascot, after finishing sixth in the French 1000 Guineas behind Castle Lady - although she had no luck that day.

Not only did she comprehensively turn the tables on that rival, but she was too good for the English and Irish 1000 Guineas heroine, Hermosa.

Graffard, who has been training for nearly eight years, said: "It's a week you dream for. As I was saying last Sunday, you get up every morning to do this job to be part of this game at this level."

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