TURNER DISMOUNTS THANKS BE
Hayley Turner said she hoped the Queen would forgive her after she and her mount Thanks Be beat royal runner Magnetic Charm in the Sandringham Stakes to end a 32-year drought for female jockeys at Royal Ascot.
Turner, 36, was not even at primary school when Gay Kelleway became the one and only female rider to win at this meeting by landing the 1987 Queen Alexandra Stakes on Sprowston Boy.
Turner admitted she had not held out too much hope that 33-1 shot Thanks Be, trained by Charlie Fellowes, would break her Royal Ascot duck but she conjured a strong final furlong burst to edge out Magnetic Charm by a neck.
Turner’s success came with a sting in the tail as Ascot stewards deemed she had used her whip above the permitted level in the final furlong and a half. She was suspended for nine days and fined £1,600. Turner struck her mount 11 times in the closing stages.
Female jockeys have enjoyed increasing success at the Cheltenham Festival — the centrepiece of the jumps season where three won in March including Bryony Frost and top Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore. Chances at the biggest festival of Flat racing have been far harder to come by.
But Turner said she had never been despondent and with colleagues Nicola Currie, Jane Elliott, Josephine Gordon and Hollie Doyle riding at the Royal meeting this week she had hoped for a female win.
Turner, who was awarded her OBE in 2016, said: ‘Thanks Be was an outsider so you could only be so confident. I am in disbelief. I have a few places (at this meeting). I have been knocking on the door. Fair play to Gay Kelleway, she has had the bragging rights for a long time so I can take them off her now!
‘There were so many girls riding during the week and they all had chances. I was hopeful someone would have a winner but not sure it would be me.
‘Hollie and Josephine waited for me when we pulled up (after the race) to congratulate me. We all wanted someone to have a winner, it would have been great for any of them. I think it will become more common now.’
Turner has flown the flag now for female riders for close on two decades. She was joint apprentice champion in 2005 and in 2008 became the first British female jockey to ride 100 winners in a season.
She also had two Group One winners in 2011 but disillusioned with the opportunities she was getting, she retired in 2015 only to return last year.
ITV’s racing anchor Ed Chamberlin was seen wiping away tears after Turner’s historic win
During her time out, she worked as a pundit on ITV which perhaps explained why anchor Ed Chamberlin was so emotional when he interviewed her after her win.
Turner’s achievement stole the show on a day when the feature Coronation Stakes went to French challenger Watch Me, trained by Francis Graffard and ridden by Pierre-Charles Boudot.
The Group One Commonwealth Cup went to a back-to-form Advertise, who beat Forever In Dreams a length and a half. Advertise, an 8-1 shot, had flopped in the 2,000 Guineas at the start of a period when the Martyn Meade stable was under a cloud.
It was a seventh win of the meeting for Dettori, matching his best ever tally in 1998. Ryan Moore is on five wins after he won the King Edward VII Stakes on Aidan O’Brien’s Japan, the 6-4 favourite.