Turner eyeing top jockey title as Racing League heads for Newcastle finale

Hayley Turner has another coveted title in her sights as leader of the William Hill Racing League jockeys’ table – but admits she will be looking over her shoulder at the chasing pack on the final night of the inaugural competition.

Turner, of course, is no stranger to success in team events – as the all-time leading rider in the history of Ascot’s Shergar Cup and recently recipient of the permanent trophy for that famous annual event.

She would therefore be an appropriate first winner of the Racing League’s equivalent prize, and has a favourite’s chance as joint leader alongside the absent Louis Steward on 207 points.

Turner will be leading the charge at Newcastle on Thursday for Team ThoroughBid – who are just four points clear of their closest rivals Goat Racing.

She has three rides for Andrew Balding and another for Richard Hannon, and a seven-point cushion ahead of Team talkSPORT’s Jack Mitchell – with Goat Racing’s reserve rider Steward unable to further his claims, because he is serving a riding ban.

The threat posed by Mitchell and a clutch of others such as Saffie Osborne is significant, however, as Turner acknowledges.

“It’s still a bit open – because I think Jack Mitchell’s not far behind me, and Martin Dwyer and Saffie (Osborne),” she said.

“I think they’ve all got good rides, so I’m not over-confident of keeping my head in front.”

Hayley Turner is no stranger to success in team events
Hayley Turner is no stranger to success in team events (Steven Paston/PA)

There are 25 points on offer to the winner of each of the six races through the card.

Turner is optimistic of adding to her tally with her four mounts, and is also hoping ThoroughBid can stay in front.

“They’ve all got chances, so that’s good,” she added.

“We’ve had a good few weeks (at ThoroughBid), and I know that Sean (Levey) has a couple of good rides for Richard (Hannon) as well.

“It’s tight, though. It’s not a given going into the last one.

“It’s always a bit of fun. It’s nice to do something a bit different – so yes, it would be good (to win), and I’m glad the competition has gone down well with everyone.”

Saffie Osborne has enjoyed a fine time of things in the Racing League
Saffie Osborne has enjoyed a fine time of things in the Racing League (Nigel French/PA)

Turner’s evening begins with Balding’s Winterwatch in the opening race over an extended mile and a half, and she also rides Scampi and Fox Premier for the Kingsclere trainer before relying on Hannon’s Kool Moe Dee in the last.

Winterwatch is an unexposed and improving three-year-old.

Turner said: “I think Josh (Bryan) has been riding him, and he’s done a good job on him at home as well.

“I don’t know (much) about the horse, but I’ll have a chat with him. He’s done nothing wrong so far.”

She expects Newcastle’s stiffer track to suit Scampi better than Lingfield last time – when they finished third together – and also senses good chances with Fox Premier and Kool Moe Dee.

She said of the former: “He ran well last time, staying on. He’s always in with a shout, and he’s a very genuine and consistent horse.”

As for Kool Moe Dee, Turner added: “He was unlucky last time at Lingfield.

“He didn’t get the breaks when he needed them. He’s run a couple of good races – he’s not the most straightforward horse to ride, but you wouldn’t rule him out altogether.”

Team talkSPORT's Jack Mitchell is hot on the heels of Hayley Turner
Team talkSPORT’s Jack Mitchell is hot on the heels of Hayley Turner (Tim Goode/PA)

Mitchell has a notably strong book of rides, and is still full of hope for both his title challenge and that of talkSPORT – who are currently more than 35 points adrift of the top two, in third of 12.

He is relishing the challenge, and told Sky Sports Racing: “It’s going to be competitive stuff.

“It’s obviously very tight at the top of the jockeys’ table – and even the team table can change very quickly, so I’m hoping talkSPORT have a good team to go to war with.”

On Steward’s absence, he added: “It’s sad for him. Obviously, Louis has done brilliantly throughout the whole series – and Goat Racing have had a good team to go forward with.

“There’s enough points on offer. I’ve got six (rides), I think Saffie’s got six, (and) Hayley’s got four – so there’s plenty of chances.”

The leading rider at the end of the competition will take home a £25,000 bonus, with £15,000 to the second and £10,000 to the third-placed jockey.

Goat double keeps pressure on Racing League leaders ThoroughBid

Goat Racing struck at the double on the penultimate evening of the William Hill Racing League at Lingfield to set up a grand finale with leaders Team ThoroughBid at Newcastle next week.

Victories for Billhilly and Red October, both ridden by the team’s reserve rider Louis Steward, kept Newmarket trainers Charlie Fellowes, Hugo Palmer, Tom Clover and George Scott within four points of ThoroughBid – who lead on 321.

Billhilly won for a second time in the competition, with a dazzling display in the William Hill Lengthen Your Odds Racing League R28 Handicap.

Successful on the all-weather track two weeks ago, Fellowes’ four-year-old repeated the trick on the turf.

Billhilly (11-2) led over a furlong out and swept away for a convincing four-and-three-quarter-length victory.

Steward told Sky Sports Racing: “I’m delighted for the horse, and delighted for Charlie and the team, everyone at home and the owners.

“They’ve done such a good job with this horse, just to revive his career. It’s so good to see, and great to be on his back today.”

Red October gave Goat Racing and Steward a double when hanging on to take the concluding William Hill Play Responsibly Racing League R30 Handicap.

The 4-1 chance hit the front in the straight, and prevailed by a neck from Cozone.

Steward said: “He half-stumbled coming out of the gates, and I actually had a bit of a lump in my throat and thought ‘how am I going to recover from this?

“But he did – and ever since that win at Leicester (last month), he’s done nothing but stay consistent. It’s so good to see, with these quirky horses, with a bit of an attitude.

“He dug deep for me, and he was very tough towards the end there.

“I’m delighted. I only filled in as a sub, but I think I can now be called supersub!

“It’s good to play a big part in this, and great to see the team doing well.”

Team ThoroughBid remain just in front thanks largely to Typhoon Ten (11-1), who strode home in the William Hill Double Your Odds Racing League R27 Handicap.

Sean Levey made a race-winning move when he kicked on two furlongs out. The top weight, trained by Richard Hannon, then pulled away to cross the line three lengths clear of Ajrad.

Levey said: “He travelled well, to be fair, surprisingly well.

“He’s always been a handful, this horse. But it seems like running every week has absolutely crowned him, made a man of him.

“He gave me the best ride he ever has today. He hacked down to the start, relaxed, and he was very professional throughout the race as a result.

“So he’s definitely learning, and going the right way.”

Steward’s double saw him climb up the jockeys’ table into joint first place with Hayley Turner, on 207 points.

Jack Mitchell is third on 200 points after winning on the Michael Bell-trained Natural Path for Team TalkSport in the William Hill Pick Your Places Racing League R26 Handicap.

The 100-30 joint-favourite got a dream run through on the rail to take the lead and maintain the gallop to score by two lengths.

Danny Muscutt came in for a winning spare ride when guiding Anythingtoday (10-1) home in the William Hill Build Your Odds Racing League R29 Handicap.

Replacing the injured Nicola Currie, Muscutt brought the George Boughey-trained seven-year-old with a well-timed run to score for Team Racehorse Lotto.

EToro Racing got on the scoreboard through Richard Fahey’s Show Me Show Me (10-1) in the opening five-furlong William Hill Free Or Four Racing League R25 Handicap, in the hands of Paddy Mathers.

Team ThoroughBid on top in Racing League

Team ThoroughBid took a narrow lead in the William Hill Racing League after the fourth week of the six-meeting series.

They had just the one winner on the card, courtesy of Quickstep Lady in race two, but picked up further crucial points in other races to end the evening on top with 245 points.

Hayley Turner steered the Andrew Balding-trained filly home to earn the 25 points and she now heads the jockeys’ table.

“It was a strong gallop and she ground it out really well,” she told Sky Sports Racing.

“She goes so well at home and looks a million dollars so it was nice it paid off today.”

Team Swish led at the start of play and added 18 points to their tally when Fernando Rah was runner-up in the opening contest.

That went to Newmarket Red’s Autumn Flight (12-1), from Robert Cowell’s yard, who prevailed by half a length in the hands of Robert Havlin.

However, Team Swish finished the night in fourth place on 231 points, with Goat Racing second on 242 and Team talkSPORT third on 232.

Louis Steward riding Via Serendipity
Louis Steward riding Via Serendipity (Steven Paston/PA)

Goat Racing had their winner with Via Serendipity, who came with a strong run to win race four over a mile.

Louis Steward gave Charlie Fellowes’ seven-year-old a patient ride to head long-time leader Hieronymous.

“I’ve been watching all the races and I was a bit worried as my instructions were to switch him off, but Charlie was right – he knows the horse inside out. When the gaps came he picked up like a nice horse,” said Steward.

“One smooth run down the middle here helps, especially on a hold-up horse. We did that and it paid off.”

Dark Lion (7-2) came from off the pace to snatch the spoils for Team talkSPORT in race three over a mile in the hands of Jack Mitchell.

Dark Lion struck under Jack Mitchell
Dark Lion struck under Jack Mitchell (Steven Paston/PA)

Roger Varian’s charge was produced with a rattling run to grab Air To Air close home to score by a neck.

Champagne Piaff (2-1 favourite) was the toast of Team BullionVault when winning race five in great style.

The Gary Moore-trained three-year-old stayed on strongly under Hector Crouch to score nicely from Barenboim.

Remulate Racing had their first winner of the competition when Sword Beach (11-1) struck in race six in the hands of Georgia Dobie for trainer Eve Johnson Houghton.