Since 1995 and at the time of writing, only 33 jockeys have smashed through the 1,000 winners ceiling.
And now Hayley Turner has joined them, becoming the first female rider to surpass the milestone in Europe.
She’s enjoyed an outstanding career but this is perhaps the pinnacle of it, cementing her status as one of the finest jockeys of the modern era despite being devoid of big race opportunities early on in her days in the saddle.
Born into a riding family barely two miles from Nottingham Racecourse, you didn’t need to be a clairvoyant to know what Turner’s career path would be, but she’s made the most of her natural talent – major wins on both sides of the Atlantic confirmation that her decision was a wise one.
Ever modest, she said it would take other female jockeys ‘half the time’ to reach the 1,000 winner, partly thanks to the growing number of trainers and owners handing them plum rides – Hollie Doyle, for example, is already closing in on 900 wins of her own.
At the other end of the spectrum, Lilly Pinchin was celebrating in November when she rode out her claim with victory at Fakenham – putting her on the road to professional status.
All those that have come since owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Turner, who paved the way for female jockeys at the top of the sport to secure better rides at some of the leading yards in the game.
So here’s a look back at some of her career highlights:
Although, in the fullness of time, exploits as an apprentice or conditional jockey are hoped to be forgotten in favour of professional glory, it shouldn’t be underestimated how important those formative years in the saddle are.
It’s confirmation, if nothing else, of having the talent to thrive in the professional ranks, so being crowned champion apprentice in 2005 – jointly with Saleem Golam – after celebrating 44 wins that season was undoubtedly a vital moment in Turner’s career.
But that was just the beginning.
“What women jockeys need is someone with the courage to break the mould, and put a woman up on a really good horse,” she said after collecting her trophy.
It wouldn’t be long before she facilitated exactly that….
100 Winners in a Year
One of the prejudices holding back women jockeys in years gone by is that they didn’t win enough, which is ironic given that they had to scrap for a ride – any ride – in the first place.
But Turner’s burgeoning reputation was such that, in the mid-2000s, trainers and connections were very keen to have her on board.
— Ffos Las Racecourse (@FfosLasRC) March 4, 2018
And the Nottinghamshire woman made the absolute most of her opportunities, recording 100 wins in a single calendar year in 2008 – again, the first female jockey to achieve the milestone. Among them was an eye-catching victory in the Hessen-Pokal, a prestigious Group 3 renewal in Germany.
Group 1 Glory
The 2011 season offered up highlights and lowlights for Turner.
A broken ankle, suffered in a fall at Bath Racecourse, was not only excruciatingly painful but a season-ender – frustrating given that she was again heading towards 100 wins for the campaign.
Aside from that, it’s a year Turner will look back on fondly as the side of her first Group 1 triumph – with her second following just a matter of weeks later.
Newmarket, where she now resides, would ironically be the location, with the July Cup – one of the most prestigious races on the UK Flat calendar aside from the Classics – clinched courtesy of her ride on Dream Ahead.
Hayley Turner’s 2011 July Cup Win
The Nunthorpe Stakes would be next up, with another stellar ride aboard Margot Did at York’s Ebor Festival.
Hayley Turner’s 2011 Nunthorpe Stakes Win
Her domestic reputation soaring, it was time for Turner to spread her wings internationally.
She scored rides in Dubai – becoming the first women ever to ride at the Dubai World Cup meeting – and in Hong Kong.
But it was a booking in the United States that would add another major success to her CV. Turner would guide I’m a Dreamer to glory in the Beverly D. Stakes; her first overseas Group 1 win and the first British-based female to achieve the feat.
A Royal Return
Some serious injuries, including one catastrophic fall at Doncaster in which she suffered serious damage to her back, ultimately forced Turner into a premature retirement.
She took up an altogether safer role with microphone in hand, broadcasting for a number of racing channels and media outlets.
But evidently the fire still burned inside, because a couple of years later in 2018 Turner re-applied for her jockeys’ licence – a year later, she was celebrating her first win at Royal Ascot.
Thanks Be, a 33/1 outsider, was cajoled to victory in the Sandringham Stakes – only the second time a female jockey had won at the famous meeting. More would follow, and at the time of writing Turner has four Royal Ascot triumphs to her name.
What an extraordinary career she has enjoyed despite the issues facing female jockeys in those early years!