Turner savours Goodwood victories

Hayley Turner Goodwood'
Hayley Turner Goodwood'
Minellatillmorning won the Happy Birthday Sarah Cotty Handicap Hurdle. Picture: Fontwell Park

Balding celebrates Glory at Fontwell

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It’s a jockey’s nemesis, their Everest – the toughest battleground this country has to offer.

It takes no prisoners, chewing even the best in the business up and spitting them out when they least expect it.

Hard-luck stories litter the parade ring like betting slips, ripped up and tossed into the breeze.

But it is for that reason, Hayley Turner loves every last blade of grass at Goodwood.

She relishes the challenge a day on the Downs has to offer.

And it is for that reason, the land’s leading lady jockey jumped at the opportunity to become the venue’s racing ambassador for the summer.

‘I haven’t had loads and loads of winners here but when I do it is really satisfying,’ said the 30-year-old from Nottingham.

‘And that’s because it is probably the most testing track to ride of all of them.

‘It’s definitely the acid test of a jockey’s skills and tactics.

‘It’s the layout. If you have a look at it, the horses have to switch rails and there are tight turns.

‘It is hard to settle a horse when you are moving left to right.

‘It is very stop-start. You can settle a horse and then, when you are turning in, the horses lean over to the far rail.

‘There are a lot of hard-luck stories at Goodwood.

‘Often as a jockey you have to tangle your way out of trouble.

‘It is a really skilled track to ride.’

Turner is not the first to cite the unforgiving nature of the picturesque course on the Sussex Downs.

But there are few more qualified to reveal its intricacies than the finest female rider the United Kingdom has ever known.

‘I rode a horse called Boom And Bust recently,’ said the jockey.

‘He is the horse I won on at Glorious Goodwood a few years ago.

‘He is a front-runner and because it is up and down and round, it keeps him interested.

‘Last week I rode him at Ascot over a straight mile and it was a bit of a grind.

‘If you were running, you would much rather run around here than over a straight mile.

‘And Goodwood suits horses like that.

‘If I were a horse, I think it would suit me.

‘If I go running I have to go out on the roads and wind around a bit because, even though there is no difference in distance, mentally it is easier.’

There is no doubting Turner’s focus in the saddle, though.

She is a trailblazer, a groundbreaker. Quite simply the most successful female jockey the UK has ever seen.

She was the first woman jockey to ride 100 winners in a season (2008) and triumph in a Group 1 (2011).

Two more top-grade victories have followed, including the Beverley D Stakes at Arlington Park in America – as she became the first female jockey from these shores to taste international Group 1 glory.

Her name will forever be etched into the racing history books.

Not that you’d know it from her modest, yet witty, nature.

Turner simply gets on with her job – even if the ambassador missed the first date in her Goodwood diary.

‘I felt terrible not being at Goodwood on Saturday but it was nice to have rides at the Guineas meeting at Newmarket,’ she said.

‘I don’t do anything about it (her iconic female rider status).

‘The lads work as hard, if not harder, than me and we get the same results.

‘But everyone knows me because I’m a girl.

‘All that concerns me is keeping the trainers and the owners happy.

‘Maybe when I give up and I look back, I will appreciate it a bit more.

‘But at the moment I am not doing anything different to anyone else.’