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Hayley Turner becomes first female winner at Royal Ascot in 32-years

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

05:18 21 Jun 2019


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Hayley Turner has become the first female jockey to ride a winner at Royal Ascot since 1987. 

Turner was aboard the 33/1 shot Thanks Be, who claimed Friday's penultimate race - the Sandringham Stakes. The 36-year old becomes only the second female jockey to win at Royal Ascot.

Gay Kelleway was the last woman to succeed at the festival, when she partnered Sprowston Boy to victory in the two-mile six-furlong Queen Alexandra Stakes.

In the end, Thanks Be won by the narrowest of margins, beating one of the Queen's horses Magnetic Charm (7/1) by a neck, with another 7/1 chance in Hotsy Totsy placing third. Turner told ITV Racing after her win that she was confident about picking up the victory earlier today, "This morning riding out, one of the lads in the yard - Alfie - rides her out all the time and was like 'I can't believe she's drifted out to 50/1'.

"[Trainer] Charlie [Fellowes] was quite confident, he said 'Everything is A1, the ground, the trip'.... the only negative part was the draw, but when she got a bump jumping out I half-missed it. I managed to tack her across and got right in amongst them.

"She just sliced through them easily. When the gaps half come when you're going that well, it makes it easier to take them. Only having 8-stone on her back helped her as well."

An emotional Fellowes told ITV that Turner being given the ride on Thanks Be happened by chance, "Hayley rang me up two weeks ago, and asked me ' Can I come and ride out for you a couple of days a week. She'd ridden me a winner at Newmarket earlier on in the year, so I said 'Yeah, good idea'. It's purely because of that that she picked up this ride". It's a story verified by Turner herself, "I rang my agent, and I was like 'Do you think I should just ring Charlie?', and he says 'Yeah, just ring him'."

The win puts the cap on an incredible comeback for Turner, who retired from the saddle at the end of the 2015 season only to return in 2018. But it's a job she clearly still loves, "If you get into racing, you'll never have to work a day in your life. It's just a fun job. You have your long days but it is so worth it."

Turner is a dual Group 1-winner, having claimed the July Cup at Newmarket on Dream Ahead in July of 2011. Her second Group 1 came just a month later with Margot Did winning the Nunthorpe Stakes at York's Ebor meeting.

2019 has proved a stellar year thus far for female jockeys, both over fences and on the flat. Bryony Frost became the first woman to win a Grade One over jumps at the Cheltenham Festival when she claimed the Ryanair Chase on Frodon. That was followed by Lizzie Kelly winning the Handicap Chase on Siruh du Lac. And Rachael Blackmore won the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle on Gold Cup day, her second win of the festival.

Turner believes female winners at Royal Ascot will soon become the norm, "I went in today, and there was Josephine [Gordon], Hollie [Doyle], Nicola [Currie], they're all there all the time now. The standard is just so high, and they just deserve to be here with good rides.

"The numbers are rising, and in 10-years' time girls will be having winners more often and it won't be a big thing. It's just going to snowball, but it will take time."

 

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Bryony Frost Charlie Fellowes Cheltenham Festival Hayley Turner Newmarket Rachael Blackmore Racing Royal Ascot Thanks Be

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