Hayley Turner: has not ruled out riding before August 6PICTURE: Getty Images
Turner may take rides before Shergar Cup
HAYLEY TURNER will spend the next six weeks getting herself cherry-ripe for her shock return to the saddle at the Shergar Cup and has not ruled out riding before August 6 to help her get physically and mentally ready.
However, Turner, 33, reiterated on Thursday her decision to take part on the girls team was not a precursor to returning to riding full time and instead an opportunity to support an event she has long held close to her heart.
She said: "I've been keeping fit since I stopped, for vain reasons as much as anything, but I'll be working hard towards the Shergar Cup. I might try to get a few rides before the Shergar Cup if there are opportunities to help me mentally as much as physically.
"I was approached a while ago and I didn't have to think about it at all. When I stopped riding I never thought I would get the chance to come back for a day like this. If you could come back and only ride on the big days that would be great and everybody would do it, but it doesn't work like that."
'Going to be great'
Turner is set to take her place alongside Canadian Emma-Jayne Wilson and Cathy Gannon, who hopes to be back from her foot injury by the Shergar Cup, and both teammates are excited by her return.
Wilson said: "Hayley has been an integral part of the Shergar Cup and The Girls team for a long time. To make the decision to retire would've been a tough one but to come back and have one last hurrah I think is going to be great.
"There's going to be the doubters but we'll be making a go of it and having a good time. That's what it's all about for the racegoers and the punters coming to the races."
'The natural choice'
Ascot's decision to call on Turner at the expense of in-form female riders such as Josephine Gordon drew some criticism on Thursday, but Nick Smith, Ascot's director of racing and communications, said the profile of the day made Turner the natural choice.
He said: "We said last year Sammy Jo riding as an apprentice was a one-off as it makes things complicated. She took her opportunity and she was in the news a lot at the time and it worked, but it was not something we wanted to make a habit of.
"The Shergar Cup is about trying to promote racing to people outside the sport and Hayley is both a very successful rider and well known. You can see how much news and debate it has generated and that's great for racing and great for the day."
Read the full story on Hayley Turner's return to riding, including further comment from Turner and Cathy Gannon, in today's Racing Post, also available on iPad now