Hayley Turner, the inspiration to a generation of female riders, made racing history again when her victory on Tradesman in the Illuminate Christmas Ball Handicap at Chelmsford meant she became the British female jockey to ride 1000 winners.
Turner, 40, had been stuck on 999 for 16 days but got there when David Simcock’s four-year-old, carrying the same colours as Dream Ahead – on whom she won the 2011 July Cup, making her the first female to win a Group One outright – won the two mile contest.
It is unlikely she will have enjoyed many of her previous 999 as much as she did on the Simcock-trained Tradesman, who sat last for the first mile and then had so many more gears than his rivals that he cruised through the field like a hot knife through butter to win by a length and three quarters going away.
Turner was all smiles as she was cheered to the winners’ enclosure and given a hug by Simcock.
“I did drag it out a bit,” said the relieved jockey afterwards. “I made a mountain out of a molehill but got there eventually. It’s a bit of a relief. I made a bit of a big deal out of it and put pressure on myself but it’s done now.
“It’s taken me a long time but the up and coming girls are riding so well everyday it’ll take them half the time. It makes me very proud to feel that perhaps I played a part in their careers. I’ve seen a lot of girls come and go and they all played a part in getting them to where they are today.”
Michael Bell, whom she joined as an 18-year-old apprentice after having ridden just one winner, stuck his neck out at a time when female jockeys were unfashionable to get rides and she would go on to ride nearly 200 winners for him.
“She really deserved that,” he said. “She’s been a role model for all jockeys let alone females. In many ways she’s been a pathfinder and made it much easier for the current generation of females who followed her into the sport.
“From the outset she stood out as an athlete and she was unusually strong. Riding work she could really push one and you couldn’t pick her out as female which was unusual back then. Obviously they are better coached and advised now and generally fitter but she’s the one who set the standard.”
Born a short hack from Nottingham racecourse, she had her first ride at Southwell in March 2000. Her first winner came that June and, initially, she began to make her name on the winter all-weather circuit.
Since then it has been a career of firsts. In 2005 she was the first female to win the apprentice title, sharing it with Saleem Golam on 44 winners apiece. With that momentum behind her on December 30 2008 she became the first female jockey to ride 100 winners in a calendar year.
A month after Dream Ahead won the July Cup, she won the Nunthorpe on Margot Did for Bell. The following spring she was the first female to ride on Dubai World Cup night and in June 2012 she became the second to ride in the Derby.
In 2015 she retired to take up a role as a television pundit and in 2016 was awarded an OBE but when a 2kg weight allowance for female jockeys was introduced in France she started riding out there before basing herself back in Newmarket again.
In 2019, when she won the Sandringham Handicap, she became the first female to ride a winner at Royal Ascot since Gay Kelleway in 1987. Since then she has ridden three more.
It is unlikely that any British female will ever better the world record for career wins which was set by the American Julie Krone who rode a staggering 3,704 winners between 1981 and 2004; a number no female in the USA or anywhere else has come anywhere near to matching.
Hollie Doyle, who is currently on a contract riding in Japan for the winter, is the next most successful in terms of winners in Britain having ridden 867 winners.