Turner 'absolutely buzzing' after call-up for Shergar Cup
Hayley Turner is “absolutely buzzing” at the prospect of riding at the Shergar Cup again after being called up to replace Josephine Gordon in the Girls team at Ascot on Saturday.
Britain’s most successful female rider retired in 2015 but has made fleeting race-riding appearances this year, and announced last weekend she will return full-time over the winter months as she plans to take advantage of France's to 4.4lb allowance for female jockeys.
With Gordon required at Newmarket by Hugo Palmer to ride Jousi in the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes, and with Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori also absent from the original Shergar Cup cast announced in April, Turner's presence will provide a shot in the arm to the Dubai Duty Free-backed annual extravaganza.
Turner said: “It’s hard luck for Josephine, but at least it’s not due to injury. I’m absolutely buzzing. It’s the best day of the year. I prefer it to Christmas!
“It’s nice that I’ve had a few rides this summer preparing for France, where I am going to ride over the winter, so I’ll be well prepared for Saturday.”
Turner, a member of the ITV Racing team, will mix her riding and media roles on Saturday, and added: “I’ll be doing The Opening Show in the morning and can hopefully give the viewers good insight.
“I’ll also be able to go on television at times during the afternoon, so it promises to be a busy and exciting day. It will be real good fun.”
Turner was on the Girls team in 2015, alongside Emma-Jayne Wilson and Sammy Jo Bell, for the girls' one and only victory in the event, for which this year's trio – Turner, Wilson and Michelle Payne – are 3-1 with Paddy Power. Turner is 11-10 with the same firm to partner a winner and 10-1 to be overall top points scorer.
Gordon, last year's champion apprentice, said: “I have been looking forward to it for the last three months and last year really enjoyed it, but I’ve got bigger and other priorities to Hugo Palmer and hopefully next year I’ll get the chance to do it.
“I’m not going to turn down a Group 3, and I’ve won on the filly before. It was something to talk about, but at the end of the day it’s a Group race.
“This year I set myself goals to ride in bigger races, Group races, so I’ve got to do that for myself."
She added: “I’m absolutely gutted about the Shergar Cup because last year it was such good fun but that’s the way it goes. I do think they should change the Shergar Cup to a Sunday.”
Referencing the defections of Gordon, Dettori and Moore, Ascot spokesman Nick Smith said: “We completely understand that home jockeys with retainers have to honour those, and in Hayley we can deliver something unique as she'll be doubling up where she can in her ITV role.
"This couldn't have come at a better time with Hayley having just announced she's back riding full-time in France after the Flat season. She's consistently been a tremendous ambassador for the event, and we're thrilled to have her back in the saddle."
Dettori has been replaced by Umberto Rispoli in the European team, while Fran Berry takes the place of Moore in the British and Irish trio.
On the four-legged front, plenty of rain is forecast in the south over the next few days, which could put the participation of Pipers Note, favourite for the Shergar Cup Dash, in doubt.
“We’ll wait on what the weather does before making a decision,” said trainer Ruth Carr.
“He wouldn’t want it too soft, and we've the Great St Wilfrid in mind for him the following weekend.
“He does like Ripon and could go straight there if the ground is unsuitable at Ascot. However, if they didn’t get too much rain he'd be a likely runner.
"I was delighted with the way he ran at Ascot in a big handicap last time out.”
Shergar Cup line-ups
Girls: Michelle Payne, Emma-Jayne Wilson, Hayley Turner
Europe: Adrie De Vries, Alexander Pietsch, Umberto Rispoli
Great Britain & Ireland: Jamie Spencer, Fran Berry, Neil Callan
Rest of the World: Kerrin McEvoy, Anthony Delpech, Keita Tosaki