Hayley Turner is having a dream year, there's no doubt about it. After gaining her first Group 1 win aboard Dream Ahead in Newmarketâ€™s July cup, she notched up the 500th winner of her career at Windsor on Monday night.
The last race on an evening card is not the usual place for landmarks. Neither is riding a 10-year-old horse on the flat. But those two things combined in the curiously named Premier League 20 Seasons Handicap (it wasnâ€™t founded until 1992) as a brave ride from Turner brought Efistorm to land his fifth victory at Windsor. They were pretty much last entering the final furlong, but once a gap opened close to the rails, Turner was quick to push Efistorm through to lead in the final strides.
When the Premier league was first thought of Turner was just nine years old. It was already in its 10th season by the time she had her first ride in March 2000. And that season was already over when she wrote her first winner, Generate, in an apprentice handicap at Pontefract, beating current champion jockey Paul Hanagan in the process.
Trainer Michael Bell, who has supported Turner since she was apprenticed to him 10 years ago, said of her, "You can't underestimate what Hayley has achieved. There is an inbuilt prejudice against female riders â€“ the first lady rider only road on the flat less than 40 years ago â€“ so she really has been a pathfinder."
Ironically, Turner's 500th winner came on the same evening as the first ever all lady rider race meeting took place at Carlisle. Indeed Turner had been heavily involved in the promotion of this event. She hopes it will be the trigger for other female jockeys to achieve what she has done. "I think it can be done," she said. "If they're good enough there's no reason why they can't do it. If they work hard and theyâ€™re ambitious and you have a passion for it, it will happen."