Hayley On A Double

Air Mauritius International Jockeys’ Challenge

Hayley Turner

Hayley Turner – the best

How fit will Britain’s leading female jockey of all time be when she throws a leg over Jacques Strydom’s Seventh Symphony in her first ride of the 2016 Air Mauritius International Jockeys’ Challenge at Fairview on Friday?

While South African racing fans have been starved of top-notch lady jocks in recent years, and will be thrilled to welcome back the 33 year old star of the saddle, whose last ride in the 2015 challenge on Dream Galaxy was a narrow winner, her lack of racing this year may count against her.

Turner, who came out of retirement in August to ride in the Shergar Cup at Ascot, has an impressive record.

The 33-year-old, awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list, retired in November 2015.

She was the first woman in Britain to ride a Gr1 winner outright (she rode three in total) and also partner 100 winners in a year.

She was crowned joint-champion apprentice in 2005.

In a situation mirroring the lack of depth in the female jockey ranks  in this country, she was only the fourth woman ever to ride out her claim.

Hayley Turner

Hayley Turner – fell out of love with race riding

When taxed about the challenges facing lady riders, she told BBC News:

“You do have to train harder and get fitter but I think a lot of the girls moan about it when they just need to get their heads down and get on with it. If they are good enough they will get on, why wouldn’t they?

“A trainer wants a good jockey and an owner wants someone who gets on with the horse so there is no reason why that can’t be a girl. I see it as refreshing more than anything else when women riders win big races.”

Her riding years were not without problems –  most significantly suffering a head injury in a bad fall on the gallops in 2009 and being hurt at Doncaster in 2013.

Turner said at the time of her retirement after 15 great years that her love for the sport had started to wane.

Hayley Turner

Hayley Turner

“I’d just fallen out of love with the sport really – for me you have to give it all or nothing and when my love started wearing off it felt like a job. That was when I knew I was ready to tackle something new,” she said.

“The main reason I gave up was it is a hard life going racing every day when you have to spend roughly five hours a day in your car. It doesn’t leave you with time for a social life, you can’t plan anything. Now I can live a normal life. I realised it was time to quit when I woke up and didn’t fancy driving to Haydock one day. It set the alarm bells ringing,” she added.

The daughter of a riding instructor, she has ridden winners in France, Italy, Germany, Japan, South Africa and America, and also rode at the World All-Star Jockeys Challenge in Japan where she was successful aboard Win Phoenix at Sapporo racecourse.

Since hanging up her riding boots, Turner has taken an increasingly prominent media role.

Get your weekend racecards here

She certainly adds some much needed glamour to a competition where the irrepressible Frankie Dettori is likely to be a major drawcard – especially after the omission of South Africa’s’ all-time favourite, Piere Strydom.

The Air Mauritius International Jockeys’ Challenge will be run over two four-race legs at Fairview on Friday and Turffontein on Sunday.

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