Hayley Turner: admires Pendleton for taking up new challengePICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Pendleton criticism 'ridiculous' says Turner
HAYLEY TURNER on Monday launched a staunch defence of Olympian Victoria Pendleton's attempt to become an amateur jockey, labelling her weighing room colleague Racheal Kneller's comments as "ridiculous".
Kneller claimed on her Facebook page on Sunday the dual Olympic champion's Betfair-sponsored attempt to crack racing having already conquered cycling was harming the chances of stable staff who aspire to become riders, as it was sending out the wrong message.
Those assertions were dismissed by Turner, who said: "I couldn't believe it when I read about it. Victoria's worked so hard over the years to achieve what she has, she's done everything she can in cycling and now she wants to get her teeth stuck into something else.
"We should all be proud and embrace what she's doing. She should be a role model for people to show it can be done."
Turner, a dual Group 1 winner and the first female jockey to ride 100 winners in Britain in a calendar year, was impressed by Pendleton's debut at Newbury last week when she finished eighth in a charity race.
She added: "She looked so tidy and she's done a fantastic job in a short space of time. She's a very likable person and I admire what she's doing."
Pendleton's first ride in public was provided by Lawney Hill on the eight-year-old Mighty Mambo, and the trainer offered a measured take on the debate.
She said: "I think it's very important that Racheal's comments aren't taken out of context. She wasn't having a go against Victoria but that there are others who would like that opportunity. Of course there are, we understand that, but there wouldn't have been any point Betfair getting an unknown jockey and giving them this job. They're looking for publicity, that's what they do."
"She's working very hard at it, if she finds this isn't for her she won't carry on. But I think you could see by her reaction, even finishing eighth, how excited she was."
Hill and Turner also added that Pendleton's determination to succeed has been evident with her immediate reaction post-race to focus on what she could have done better.
Kneller issued a statement on Monday emphasising her comments were not specific to Pendleton, and that she was pleased it had sparked a discussion.
She said: "I feel that my comments led to a very open and healthy debate which highlighted a lot of good points that get ignored in racing so often.
"I have the utmost respect for her [Pendleton] attitude towards this big challenge and I wish her the best of luck in her upcoming races. I just want racing to reward the hard grafters involved in it and to let them reap the rewards they truly deserve."