Hayley Turner makes history at Royal Ascot

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  • 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 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.

    “Fair play to Gay Kelleway she has had the bragging rights for a long time and I can take them off her. I was hopeful that someone would have a winner, and I hoped it would be me, which makes it even better.

    “Royal Ascot is different class I’ve had winners all over the world and it is a buzz, but Royal Ascot is so unique and has so much history and it has for years and will continue to do so.

    “It is going so well this year. I’ve got a lot of old support and new support. It’s just fun and I enjoy my job so much.

    “I feel bad for beating Her Majesty, but I’m sure she will understand!”

    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.

    “I think I needed the break to recharge,” Turner explained.

    “I have come back keener than ever and am enjoying it more than ever. It is going so well this year, I have got a lot of new support as well as old support, I love my job – I enjoy it so much.”

    Fellowes said: “What Hayley has done for this sport is phenomenal. She is the best female jockey that has ever ridden. Hayley rang me up two weeks ago and said, ‘can I come and ride out for you two days a week?’.

    “She had ridden a winner for me at Newmarket earlier in the year, so I said, ‘good idea’. It is purely because of that that she picked up this ride. There are not many people that can do 8st and she rode her beautifully.

    “Hayley is a very good rider and I am so pleased for her.”

    He added of his winner: “She has a very good pedigree and is a really good-looking filly, so the next plan will be trying to get some black type with her.”

    The stewards, however, took a dim view of Turner’s use of the whip, suspending her for nine days and imposing a fine of £1,600 for using it above the permitted level inside the final one and a half furlongs.

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