Hayley Turner: Dream Ahead made history for me with first Group 1
The former rider selects five horses who made a significant impact on her career
Hayley Turner, 33, the most successful British female jockey in the history of the sport, shocked the racing world last year when she announced her retirement from the saddle. A former champion apprentice, Turner called time with well over 750 career winners, including three memorable victories at the top level. As well as a one-off return to participate in the Shergar Cup – at which she rode a winner – she is now working as a broadcaster
Wallace the pony
My first choice isn’t a thoroughbred – it’s my first pony. I didn’t get him until I was 15 and he was an absolute nightmare but I learned so much on him. My mother was a riding instructor and one day one of the ladies said there was a pony for me in the field if I wanted it. They got him from Newark market and he didn’t cost much money at all. He was only two or three and I was breaking him in, and I remember my mum had me on the lunge in the indoor school and I fell off him eight times in one day. But I kept getting back on and obviously it didn’t put me off horses. He could be so sensitive about everything but eventually we got him to a show and did cross-country. It was never anything flash but just to have a clear round with him was amazing.
Beveled - Rekindled Flame
Trainer Jeff King
Career highlights Won 15 races from 86 starts in nine-year career
I was riding him right back when I was a 7lb claimer and I rode him loads of times, winning seven altogether. When you’re an apprentice you really need a horse like that to put you on the map and he did that for me. Jeff King had this reputation as a big, angry jumps trainer, so I think it might have helped change people’s minds a bit that he kept putting me up. My mum rehomes ex-racehorses and she’s got him now – he’s on permanent loan and he’ll always have a home. Another one who was very significant to me later on was Mullitovermaurice, who was my 100th winner – that was at Wolverhampton in December 2008 and I’ll never forget it. He wasn’t a superstar but he was important to me and I could easily have put him in the list as well.
Avonbridge – My Golly
Trainer James Fanshawe
Career highlights Won seven races, including Listed Garrowby Stakes at York (2013)
Sometimes you just click with a horse and that was the case with her. She was so tough – we never won easily but she was a lovely, big filly and she loved big fields. I just got on with her really well and we won some nice races – I won five on her altogether, at top tracks like Goodwood, York and Newbury and a couple at Kempton. The one I remember the most was a Listed race at York in September 2013 just after I’d come back from breaking my ankle, the same one I’d broken two years before when it put me out for four months. The surgeon had done a great job and got me back in about six weeks and she was one of my first rides back – and she won by a nose in a three-way finish. It had been a lot of effort to come back and I’ll always remember that race; she got me straight back into it and I was thrilled.
Diktat – Land Of Dreams
Trainer David Simcock
Career highlights Five Group 1 wins including Darley July Cup (2011)
As my first Group 1 winner in the July Cup, Dream Ahead was very significant for me. Being at Newmarket where he was trained made it extra-special – it’s not my home town but I’ve been there for about 17 years. It was making history – nobody can ever take that away from me. He was a great horse, as you can see from all those Group 1s. I got the ride because I was absolutely flying at the time and William Buick and Jamie Spencer were unavailable, and I’d ridden winners for the owner Khalifa Dasmal. David Simcock was very cool, put me under no massive pressure – he was quite chilled out about the whole thing. Afterwards it didn’t really hit me what I’d done but it’s started to sink in now that I’m away from it. David also gave me the ride on I’m A Dreamer when we won the Beverly D at Arlington – to go Stateside and win a race at that level was also quite something for me.
Exceed And Excel - Special Dancer
Trainer Michael Bell
Career highlights Won Nunthorpe Stakes (2011)
She was a tiny little thing but she was a pocket rocket. I won on her first time out at Newbury and we won five all told as well as some near-misses, like when we were beaten a head in the Albany at Royal Ascot. I remember the day we won a Listed race at Ayr in June when she was a three-year-old. I had to be loyal to Michael Bell and ride her because he had been loyal to me – I’d been riding for him since my apprentice days – but I could have ridden for James Fanshawe that same day in the Wokingham on Deacon Blues. Then I was at Ayr and watched Johnny Murtagh win on him; frankly, I was devastated to think I’d missed a Royal Ascot winner. A Listed race at Ayr was nice but not quite the same, but it all worked out in the end as she went and won the Nunthorpe for me. The owners were very loyal to me – we’d had those near-misses and a lot of trainers would have used that as an excuse to put another jockey on but they could see it wasn’t my fault.
. . . and one I wish I'd ridden
I've won a few Flat races but I'd love to have won a Grand National – or even just to ride in it. It would've been quite a thrill. I'm not sure I'd have been any good as a jump jockey and I'm too light anyway, but I'm pretty sure Red Rum would have got me round. He's always been a legend for everybody.