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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Turner rules out riding in Silk Series again after controversial win

Hayley Turner: celebrating Shergar Cup success but will be the other side of the camera at this year's Ascot meeting
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Hayley Turner has ruled out riding again in a series for female jockeys after her surprise return to the saddle in one of the races sparked controversy.

Several trainers were among those critical of the system after Turner's Yarmouth victory on Wednesday as her apprentice and amateur rivals were unable to claim if they had ridden more than five winners.

The rules of the pro-am Silk Series, whose favourable conditions helped persuade Group 1-winning Turner to make her latest comeback from retirement, will be reviewed, but not before the remaining seven races are run.

Turner has not ruled out more one-off rides after this latest win left her buzzing and working out in the gym on Thursday morning.

But they will not come in the £100,000 series after her opportunistic success on the Michael Bell-trained Hart Stopper in the third qualifier.

The former champion apprentice, who in 2008 became the first woman in British racing to ride more than a 100 winners in a year, said: "It's a great series for girls to show what they're capable of and I'm certainly not coming back to win it. It wouldn't be fair on the other girls."

Turner, who has been riding out for Bell as well as James Fanshawe three mornings a week in Newmarket, added: "Michael saw the race and saw weight-wise I had a bit of an advantage, so it was a shrewd move from the trainer."

Trainer Julia Feilden, mother of apprentice Shelley Birkett, who finished third in race, took to Twitter to say: "Great series for the girls but the rider conditions need sorting out regarding the claim."

Birkett was not able to claim the 3lb she would have in any other open race against a non-claiming Turner.

Trainer Mark Tompkins said: "I thought this series was for up-and-coming jockeys. Rules are rules and they have not been broken, but why oh why didn’t they tighten them up so it gave the younger and inexperienced professionals and amateurs a chance."

Susannah Gill, director of external affairs at Arena Racing Company, who created the charity-backed series this year and over whose courses the races are run, said: "The Silk Series was established to help showcase female jockey talent and add a new dimension to our ladies' days, while raising funds for Cancer Research UK.

"The race conditions are consistent with other similar contests but as part of the Silk Series evolution we will certainly review the conditions with the BHA at the end of the season."

BHA spokesman Joe Rendall said: "The Silk Series is in its first year and we will take on all feedback in conjunction with the series organisers when reviewing the concept for future years."

The Turner twist has not been lost on bookmakers who have priced up what might be the next turn after her initial retirement at the end of the 2015 turf season.

A few jockeys' invitational meetings have followed before she hit the headlines again when drafted in to the Shergar Cup girls team last year.

'I'm very lucky doing what I'm doing'

Ladbrokes make her 6-1 to ride again at the Shergar Cup next month, but her involvement in it will be as an ITV presenter rather than riding in the girls' team – which she had done so successfully in recent years – unless there is a string of late injuries.

She confirmed: "The teams have already been sorted and I'm looking forward to being on the other side of the camera with ITV and we're going to make it a fun day."

"I'm very lucky doing what I'm doing and the ITV team have been great," added Turner, who is part of the Opening Show at Newbury on Saturday as well as the afternoon racing coverage.

Looking further ahead, Hayley O'Connor, of Ladbrokes, said: "It must be something in the surname but Turners seem to love a comeback. Tina made one every couple of years and Hayley's return has prompted us to offer 25-1 she'll blast back to action with a winner at Royal Ascot next year."

Her Shergar Cup involvement next month will be as an ITV presenter rather than a rider unless there is a string of late injuries

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