Nottingham-born Hayley Turner, 39, has the distinction of being the most successful British female jockey in history. She officially retired at the end of the 2015 season, but returned to race riding, full-time, in 2018 and passed the landmark of 900 career winners when steering Master Milliner, trained by Emma Lavelle, to a comfortable, 7-length victory at York in September, 2021.
A graduate of the Northern Racing College in Doncaster, Turner rode her first winner, Generate, trained by Mark Polglase, in an apprentice handicap at Pontefract in June, 2000. However, she enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2005, riding 53 winners in the year as a whole, 44 of which counted towards the apprentice jockeys’ title. Eventually, she shared that title with Saleem Golam, but nonetheless became the first female jockey to do so and just the fourth, after Alex Greaves, Emma O’Gorman and Lisa Jones, to ride out her claim.
In 2008, Turner rode exactly 100 winners, becoming the first female jockey to reach three figures in a calendar year. Three years later, in 2011, she became just the second female jockey, after Alex Greaves, who dead-heated for first place in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in 1997, to win a Group One race and the first one to do so outright. In fact, Turner steered Dream Ahead, trained by David Simcock. to victory in the July Cup at Newmarket on July 9 and, on August 19, won the Nunthorpe Stakes herself, on Margot Did, trained by Michael Bell. Reflecting on her success, she said, ‘I can’t believe it – it’s the best season ever.’
Much later in her career, in 2019, Turner won the Sandringham Stakes at Royal Ascot on Thanks Be, trained by Charlie Fellowes, to become the first female jockey since Gay Kelleway in 1987, and just the second ever, to ride a winner at the Royal meeting. Just for good measure, she won the same race again on Onassis, also trained by Fellowes, in 2020.