Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Brian Kavanagh


Brian Kavanagh

By Stephen Dwyer

Brian Kavanagh is sitting at his ease in a small suite overlooking the final furlong at Leopardstown racecourse. It is a midweek evening meeting at the Foxrock venue where two of the seven races are valuable Group 3 events. He is due to meet delegates from Morocco, Korea and Turkey who are over to purchase bloodstock. The minister for agriculture will be here too, promoting the Irish horse. Meeting ministers and foreign delegates is all in a day’s work for the CEO of Horse Racing Ireland.

I ask Kavanagh about his interest in horse racing and am surprised to learn that the Monkstown native had no family background in the area. As a teenager working in his Uncle’s butcher shop Kavanagh would place bets in the local betting office, and thus the interest in racing and particularly racing pedigrees was fuelled from there.
Qualifying in commerce from UCD and later as an accountant, he joined the Curragh racecourse, a venue he would manage for five years before he joined the turf club as their CEO. In 2001 when Horse Racing Ireland was founded, Kavanagh was announced as their CEO, a position he has held since. He is a man who describes his position as “a labour of love” and recognises greatly that the opportunity he has received to develop the industry.

Analysing horse racing at present he is quick to point out that the rate of growth during the height of the boom was unsustainable but feels that the industry has levelled off somewhat. Recognising still that discretionary spending is down, he shows clear admiration for trainers and owners for being so resilient; “they realise that the next horse coming into the yard could be the next Arkle or Nijinsky, that’s what keeps the dream alive”.

It does not take the CEO of Horse Racing Ireland to point out fact that the quality of the Irish horse is amongst the best in the world. Most people with a passing interest in the sport know this and it is reflected in the races run here. Kavanagh concedes; “HRI operate a fundamental policy whereby 10% of all races are black type, this is a figure much higher than other comparable countries and in Ireland it is very hard to win a race”.

Kavanagh is well-travelled; he has visited the finest racetracks in the world, across to the racing city of Meydan, to Sha Tin in Hong Kong and most of the tracks in England. Yet for all these tracks he would still prefer to be in Galway on a festival night or Leopardstown at Christmas. He is a man who values substance over flair, atmosphere over finery.

The serious subject of offshore betting tax is then discussed; it is a topic that Kavanagh believes should be addressed. “It is fundamentally unfair that a bookmaker who buys a shop on the high street pays his license and taxes when someone standing outside using a computer that connects to the Isle of Man does not”. As a realist, he knows he lobbying against powerful interests, corporate types in the betting exchanges do not let the bit slip easily (Betfair’s revenues last year were €575 million). More tax netted from the bookmakers and exchanges however would be directed into initiatives like RACE, the training programme for apprentice jockeys and supporting jobs within the industry.

Flicking quickly from the challenges faced in HRI, Kavanagh recounts recent success stories such as Sea the Stars who he points out “was conceived in kildangan near Monasterivin, born in the National Stud and trained at the Curragh and went to stud at Glintown near Kilcullen. Apart from the times he left the region is has never been outside Kildare, Sea The Stars is a true lilywhite!”. It is evident his love for the sport transcends professional career.

Around this time each year the board of Horse Racing Ireland put the finishing touches on their budget for the forthcoming season. Last December a raft of cost-cutting measures were implemented due to a €1.6 million reduction in funding from the Government. These measures included a 5% decrease in all prize money and cuts in administration and racecourse services. Brian Kavanagh is chaired with the responsibility of announcing these measures. Horse Racing Ireland has been hit with financial cuts during the last number of years with a drop in Government funding from €76 million in 2008 to €57.2 million for 2011.

Whatever the budget reveals this year there are few people in Ireland with the knowledge about horse racing that Brian Kavanagh possesses and fewer still with the conviction to apply it.

The Changing Place


The Changing Place

By Stephen Dwyer

As October dawns, the mists of autumn will soon pass to the white of winter. Schooling grounds get softer as the nights close in and the countdown to the new National Hunt season has certainly and assuredly started.

But behind every silver lining sits a cloud, and what a shadow was cast last week with the passing of two irreplaceable custodians of horse racing, Donald “Ginger” McCain and Michael Jarvis. The communities of National Hunt and Flat racing have lost two remarkable men and we are all the poorer for it.

Ginger McCain will be forever known for training four-time Grand National winner Red Rum, a horse bought for a song with a bone disease who defied all odds to epitomize the greatest race in the world.

What living tribute could be more fitting than when his son Donald repeated the Grand National win last April with Ballabriggs. As well as his fame in the winner’s enclosure, McCain Snr. was renowned for his anecdotes; one I retell often is when Ginger learned that Desert Orchid was better known than the Chancellor of the Exchequer- “Desert Orchid and I have a lot in common. We are both greys; vast sums of money are riding on our performance; the Opposition hopes we will fall at the first fence, and we are both carrying too much weight.”

Ginger will be often thought about as will Michael Jarvis who enjoyed success with winners in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe the Oaks, 1,000 Guineas and was a specialist in the Haydock Sprint Cup. He was an international trainer of note and one of the first English trainers to regularly send runners from his Newmarket yard to Italy and Germany, conquering both from the late 1980’s until his retirement earlier this year. What these two men have achieved reminds us all that we are standing on the shoulders of giants.

Changes afoot too for jockeys who will now be permitted to only use the whip very sparingly during racing. The whip can only be used a maximum of seven times in a Flat race, and eight times in a jumps race (and only five times in the last furlong/after the last obstacle). Indeed serious consultation was endeavored by all sides in the review of the whip and no less than nineteen recommendations in relation to the whip were agreed by the BHA. The first of which corroborates that the whip is deemed necessary for safety and encouragement, a sensible point given that racehorses can weigh over 500kg, ten times more than their jockey.

Tony McCoy and Frankie Dettori were quick to welcome the new changes to the whip, as have Paul Nicholls and Sir. Henry Cecil. The former noting "I am pleased that the BHA has made sensible and reasonable changes, and I am supportive of them." The changes that have been brought about will take effect from October 10th and their take-up is sure to be quick.

Even though a blow has yet to be struck in anger, I stole a quick look at the Cheltenham 2012 ante-post betting. 167 days away and they are all there, the big guns. Peddler’s Cross for the Arkle, Hurricane Fly to retain the Champion Hurdle, Quevega for the Mares Hurdle, Big Bucks for the World Hurdle, Long Run.

It was Lincoln who said The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time. From October to March, those days are marked out by race names. The Old Roan Chase, The Rising Stars Novice Chase, The Long Walk, The Christmas Hurdle, The Tingle Creek, The King George.

It’s a thing of beauty following a horse on the flat or over jumps; you often form a bond with them. You relish their wins and think what can be gained next time out from their losses. The changing times are times to remember; times to live in, here’s to a great season ahead.

"There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man."
W- Churchill.

St Leger Preview


St Leger Preview

By Stephen Dwyer

First run in 1776, the same year that the United States declared their independence, the St. Leger is the last and longest of the classics. The race is open to entire colts and filles and takes place tomorrow at Doncaster over 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 132 yards. The 2011 renewal carries an attractive purse of £500,000 and the nine that go to post are as follows.

Brown Panther
(Trained by Tom Dascombe Jockey Kieran Fallon Current odds 10/1)
Owned by footballer Michael Owen, Brown Panther stayed on strongly to win The King George V Stakes winner at Royal Ascot. The St. Leger has been a target since that victory but his last two runs have been below par. He finished fifth in the German Derby was was beaten by Census last time out. Despite the best efforts of jockey Kieran Fallon, a Group 1 may be out of his reach at the present time.

Buthelezi
(Trained by John Gosden Jockey Robert Havlin Current odds 66/1)
John Gosden has trained the winner of two of the last four St. Legers but Buthelezi was well held behind Census and Brown Panther last time out in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes. He did win a Class 2 Nemarket Handicap in May over 1m 2 furlongs but his line of form gives little chance in such a competitive classic.

Census
(Trained by Richard Hannon Jockey Richard Hughes Current odds 5/1)
Richard Hannon is a trainer enjoying a very fine run of form lately, his strike rate over the past two weeks is hovering around the 20% mark and he has a live chance in the race with Census. Census finished second to Brown Panther in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot and was subsequently runner-up in the Group 3 Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket. He then improved to beat Brown Panther last time out in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes. Census is a serious improver (up twenty pounds since the start of the season). He has a lot on his plate as is giving away nine pounds on official racing to Blue Bunting. The horse is consistent though and will be thereabouts in the shake up.

Genius Beast
(Trained by M Al Zarooni Jockey S De Sousa Current odds 50/1)
Out of a Sinndar mare, Genius Beast is one of three Godolphin runners in the field. He was a surprise winner of a Classic Trial at Sandown in April but failed to justify favouritism in the €130,000 Group 2 Prix Hocquart at Longchamp. He is a likely pacemaker for Godolphin's better hopes.

Masked Marvel
(Trained by John Gosden Jockey William Buick Current odds 7/1)
An impressive winner of the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood, Masked Marvel beat Census by a head last time out at Newmarket despite hanging left inside the final furlong. He finished eighth in the Epsom Derby and the trip up in distance will suit. By Montjeu, he cuts an impressive figure and has an each way chance for the trainer and jockey combination who won this race last year.

Sea Moon
(Trained by Sir Michael Stoute Jockey O Peslier Current odds 11/8)
Sea Moon has run just four times in his career to date. Losing just once (by a short head first time out) he is a winner of a handicap over one mile and two furlongs on the Knavesmire and the Great Voltigeur Stakes by a widening 8 lengths over 1 mile 4 furlongs . Michael Stoute has noted "It's the most competitive Leger we've had for many years." but is bullish about the chances of Sea Moon. "He's got a proper Leger pedigree, his three-parts brother (Brian Boru) won the race so you'd be hopeful that stamina wouldn't be a problem." If Sean Moon relishes the step up in trip again then he might steal a march on the field. Jockey Olivier Peslier takes the ride for the first time and he is an intruiging runner, albeit at very short odds.

Seville
(Trained by Aidan O' Brien Jockey Joseph O' Brien Current odds 8/1)
Second four times from seven races, including second to Carlton House in the Dante Stakes, Seville has won just once when odds-on in a weak race in Ireland. He was fancied in the Derby but finished well down the field. The Galileo colt is still seeking his first major win and although 5 lbs better off than Blue Bunting on ratings, may well have to settle for minor honours again tomorrow.

Blue Bunting
(Trained by M Al Zarooni Jockey L Dettori Current odds 7/2)
The stable have won this race twice over the past seven years and Frankie Dettori loves the Leger. Blue Bunting goes into the race having taken the 1,000 Guineas and the Irish Oaks and is a filly with a very real chance of adding another Group 1 to that collection. Officially rated the highest in the field and receiving a weight allowance, Blue Bunting is a has class and stamina in abundance. Simon Crisford, racing manager to Godoplhin quips "She is very tough- she gives everything she has though she wins her races by a narrow margin."

Rumh
(Trained by Saeed bin Suroor Jockey Richard Hills Current odds 100/1)
Remember Maroof who won the QEII at 66/1 in 1994 ? How about Summoner in 2001 at odds of 33/1 ? Both pacemakers, just like Rumh who was supplemented at a late stage for the race. His main task is to provide pacemaking duties for Blue Bunting but Rumh is a filly without a hugely impressive closing kick and her odds of 100/1 are a reflection of her chances.

Verdict:
Sea Moon is very lightly raced but a high class sort. The Stoute stable finally won the St. Leger with Conduit in 2008 but he had followed a busier campaign. Sea Moon's win in the Great Voltigeur was impressive and if he holds this form he wins. The odds of Sea Moon are very cramped and BLUE BUNTING is selected to take the race with Frankie Dettori on board this outstanding, resolute filly.

Betting:
11/8 Sea Moon
7/2 Blue Bunting
5/1 Census
8/1 Masked Marvel
8/1 Seville
10/1 Brown Panther
33/1 Wonder Of Wonders
66/1 Genius beast
66/1 Buthelezi
100/1 Freedom
100/1 Rumh

Sundance


Sundance

By Stephen Dwyer

As you would expect, JP McManus is an exceptionally busy man. Most millionaires are. Yet, at his Martinstown estate, he takes all the time in the world to be the perfect host. JP fits our interview into a window he created between the wedding ceremony and evening reception of his wife Noreen’s nephew. Replete in a fine suit fit for the winning circle of any racecourse, JP is at ease and more than willing to talk about horse racing.

When initially requesting an audience with JP, I happened to mention that I would include this article in a writing competition, the grand prize for which is £1,000. The reply to my letter was swift. A call came from Martinstown; JP would agree to the interview on the condition I gave him £500 if I won the competition!

This was a joke of course but horse racing is close to JP’s heart and a finer proponent of the sport you will not meet. Fitting then that every March the Cheltenham Festival coincides with JP’s birthday. What would be a more fitting time to have it for one of racing’s biggest benefactors.

Born in Dublin in 1951, JP moved to Limerick when he was three years old. Since then he has become Limerick’s greatest son. In his late teens and early twenties JP drove a D4 Caterpillar for his father’s bulldozing business. At 21 he took out a bookies license and stood at point-to-points and the Greyhound track at Market’s Field. There he plied his trade with clerk and lifelong confidant, Declan Moylan.

Declan tells the story of the first time they stood at a racecourse, a point to point in Patrickswell;
“It was a cold January day and we were setting up the stand for the first race,where there was a hotpot favourite priced 4/5 and touching 4/6 in places. He seemed a good thing but JP didn’t like the look of him and chalked up a price of even money on the board. I was holding up the stand in one hand and taking bets with the other when the race went off. All was going well for the favourite ‘til he fell three out.” With a nod Declan adds “A good start wasn’t it”. Couldn’t have been any better.

Four years later, aged 25, a trip to Goffs would forever alter the course of JP’s life in horse racing. He freely admits that he went to the sales that day with no intention of buying a horse. Cill Dara, a Lord Gayle mare who had been trained to win the Cesarewitch by Con Collins caught his eye. JP remembers parting with around 30,000 for her and it wouldn’t be long until she repaid her new owners faith.

On her first start, carrying 10 stone 1lb and ridden by Raymond Carroll, Cill Dara beat a horse ridden by none other than Joanna Morgan. The colours the mare carried that day and on to a repeat win in the Cesarewitch have since become world famous. They are the green and gold hoops of South Liberties GAA club, one of the oldest in Ireland since it’s inception in 1884.

Betting of course is a discipline in which McManus has achieved both fame and notoriety. It was at Alf Hogan’s betting office in Limerick city that JP spent countless Saturdays learning and refining his strategies. The betting tax rates at the time were much higher than now but in Hogan’s shop no tax was collected on win double bets. No prizes as to what quickly became JP’s specialty.

When the minister for finance revised the taxation laws and increased the tax on betting to 20% JP stopped betting overnight.

It was a decision that would not be reversed until a more sensible taxation rate was applied and upon resuming betting, JP became known as The Sundance Kid. The nickname stems from Jimmy Hayes, a friend who was born on the exact same day as JP. Jimmy was known as Butch Cassidy so his partner’s name stuck to JP.

Despite his early successes as an owner, it was not until Mister Donovan won The Sun Alliance Hurdle at Cheltenham in 1982 that it put the-then 31 year old McManus on the road to the big stage. Mister Donovan, trained by Edward O’ Grady and ridden by Tommy Ryan was second favourite for The Sun Alliance and it was rumoured that McManus won in the region of £250,000 on the race but the exact amount is not remembered.

JP had been having a disastrous Cheltenham prior to the win and even now he recounts the memory fondly. “Winning that day was badly needed, I often think looking back that if we hadn’t have won that race, we might not have had any more”. Now, almost thirty years later and with 31 additional Cheltenham winners, the show is firmly on the road.

Self-admittedly, JP is unsure of exactly how many horses he has in training and he modestly discloses that no particular success stands out. ”I have had some great days as an owner but you always tend to remember your last winner the most”.

Drawing a blank at this year’s Cheltenham does not faze him. With a keen eye on the current competition he thinks Hurricane Fly “is a hell of a horse” but would still relish challenging him with a fully-fit Binocular. Long Run, JP is quick to add “seems a very, very good champion and kept sound I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he won the Gold Cup again”.

Out of all the horses that have passed through Martinstown, the peerless Istabraq takes pride of place. In 2002, JP held a retirement party for the three-time Champion hurdler who he hastily considers “a hard act to follow but to us here he is more than just a horse”. The thoughts of being denied a fourth Champion Hurdle due to the foot-and-mouth crisis do not entertain him as JP believes firmly that every cloud has a sliver lining.

Not every horse can be an Istabraq of course and he reminds us “you have to have the bad ones to appreciate the good ones” But there are plenty of good ones around Martinstown. As of now Risk Of Thunder and Istabraq happily share both a large paddock and an penchant for carrots. Beside them Don’t Push It and Binocular enjoy their seasonal break. Baracouda keeps a surly French eye cast upon them all.

In the spotless yard beside the stables sits an industrial-size horse walker where the new crop of winners begins their journey. Local lads from around the parish tend to the upkeep of the vast estate, painting and creosoting the fences. It is all important, all part of the bigger plan.

Briefly touching on the topic of business, JP speaks of a recently discovered bank ledger from the 1960’s. In it are records of him lodging £1 each week into a saving account. From this humble start his best advice is; “in any business it’s not the amount of good decisions that you make, it’s the amount of bad decisions that you don’t”.

JP McManus is a man whose time is spent carefully as a medley of multi-faceted ventures. His contributions to charities and special causes are both admirable and affecting.

The Pro-Am, staged every five years has raised over ninety million euros and its last running attracted 40,000 people each day.

Knowing a little about his game I asked why his favourite club is a putter. JP replied briskly “That’s simple, it’s because you know you are still in the game”.

And with that I left JP to rejoin his nephew’s wedding party.

Still in the game JP, still winning and lots of golf to play.

Great Expectations


Great Expectations

By Stephen Dwyer

At the turn of this century, a snapshot of British racecourses revealed that 59 racecourses were currently open for business. Coincidentally, 59 other courses had closed during the previous 100 years. Manchester, Birmingham, Northampton, Gatwick and Sheffield all had racecourses but all since closed. Following a spate of post-war closures, the rate of decline had slowed over the final quarter of the twentieth century. No racecourses had shut its doors during the 1990’s. Stockton was the sole closure in the 1980’s and only Wye, Lanark and Alexandra Park had folded in the 1970’s.

In addition to these closures, no completely new racecourse had opened in the UK since Taunton in 1927. This was soon to change with the addition of Ffos Las and Great Leighs but both would have different destinies. Whereas one would prosper, the other would close within a year.

Ffos Las racecourse, meaning “Blue Ditch” is the third racecourse in Wales. Situated in a natural rolling bowl about five miles from Llanelli, it had a colourful beginning. Ffos Las was constructed on the site of an open cast coal mine, a natural amphitheatre, after mining operations there had ceased.

The undertaking to build the track was significant. Over 110km of drainage was installed by specialist contractors along with stables for 120 horses and a Grandstand. Viewed from above, the racetrack appears as a 1m 4f oval jewel, hewed out of the cracked stone landscape. A dual-purpose course, it staged its inaugural meeting in June 2009 and has gone from strength to strength. Now hosting about 30 meetings a year it has received significant local support and is described as the lungs of the area and contributes significantly to the economy of west Wales.

By contrast, Great Leighs, the brainchild of entrepreneur John Holmes, did not prosper. Unquestionably the groundings of the project were solid and well intentioned. Situated in Essex; Great Leighs would be an all-weather track located in an area with a catchment population of over 4 million including that of East London and Hertfordshire.

The track and facilities cost in the region of £30 million to construct and this was reflected in the facilities of Great Leighs which were carefully thought out and implemented. Spread out over 430 acres, it had an eight and a half furlong floodlit Polytrack surface and 10,000 user capacity Grandstand which was used in the Ryder Cup.

In 2008, the year of its opening, the facilities at the track were so highly regarded that the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games recommended it as one of the holding bases for equestrianism in the build-up to the 2012 Games. The course was also immediately popular with trainers based just 50 miles away in Newmarket who would have otherwise had to travel over twice as far to get to the next closest all-weather venues at Southwell and Kempton.

Despite this praise, attendances at Great Leighs did not match the targets set out and the track attracted constant criticism from patrons due to the unfinished state of certain visitor facilities. Almost nine months to the day it was opened, amidst a flurry of unpaid bills, the track was placed in Administration and its license revoked.

Essentially the costs of building and running Great Leighs spiralled to a point that the income generated from the business was unsustainable.

Great Leighs is currently owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland and the actual artificial track surface is owned by Martin Collins, the Polytrack specialist who laid the original surface but was never paid for it. Even if Great Leighs is sold it will be at least 18 months before racing could recommence as it has missed the deadline for the 2012 fixture allocation. There were talks earlier this year between Andrew Tinkler, chief executive of Eddie Stobart Ltd, was and RBS about reopening the racecourse but as it, it is very much a case of “watch this space”.

Contrasting the success and failure of these two racecourses is not simplistic. Both were located in areas with traditional horse racing ties and a willing population. The closeness to Newmarket was also a positive for Great Leighs as were the equestrian facilities but the financial and licensing issues appeared to hasten the death knell for the track. Attendance at any racetrack is the lifeblood of the business but it is a fact that all-weather racing never attracts the same numbers as flat or National Hunt.

Even though it is still in Administration, all is not lost for Great Leighs. There is a hotel in Korea that ran out of money for sixteen years. Funding was found last year and it is on course to become one of the tallest buildings in the world. If great expectations were assumed for Great Leighs, the answer to the burning question of will it ever open again? Dickens himself could not have put it better.

Never say Never.

Hayley's Comet


Hayley’s Comet

By Stephen Dwyer

Hayley Turner is not a jockey. Politically speaking of course. The word “jockey” is a 16th century Northern English or Scots colloquial of the name “John” which diminutively became “jock”. A jockey was always male, originally a boy or postilion who had dealings with horses. Though Hayley is a woman, you would never know from her strength in the saddle.

Through their achievements, certain jockeys have written themselves into the annals of history. In 1840, the first Champion Flat Jockey, Elnathan "Nat" Flatman held the title for thirteen years. Just four other jockeys, Fred Archer, Steve Donoghue, Gordon Richards and Lester Piggott held it for almost sixty years collectively. They were what the Americans call; Game Changers.

Standing a shade over 5ft 2in and weighing under 8 stone, Hayley Turner carries a Lilliputian frame and appears to be forever smiling. At a recent photo shoot in aid of Breast Cancer charities, Hayley appeared with nine other female jockeys. Beaming directly at the camera, she was a picture of youth, elegance and self-assuredness. Despite her gentle presence, make no mistake about it, Hayley Turner is a Game Changer.

Born in January 1983, Hayley started riding horses at the age of three. As the youngest of six girls in the Turner family (her mother was a riding instructor) her journey has come a long way since sitting atop her chestnut pony Eric as a toddler.

She is a former Champion Apprentice Jockey. In 2008, she captained the British team in the Shergar Cup as well as becoming the first female rider to pass 100 winners in the calendar year. Her first Group 1 ride was on Barshiba in the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, having won the Group 2 Lancashire Oaks on the same horse at Haydock a month earlier. She is also the first woman jockey to ride for Godolphin.

Fresh from a recent career high when she partnered Dream Ahead last month in the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket, Hayley is all smiles. On August 1st she scraped home by a neck in an evening sprint handicap on Efistorm. Jokingly describing the 10yo as an “OAP”, Efistorm provided Turner with her 500th career win. Putting this into context, Alex Greaves partnered around 300 winners in a 15-year career.

Out of the saddle Hayley Turner is a multiple winner of the Channel 4 Racing Personality of the Year, a media darling and “Face of the Derby”. She is a regular sight on television and in the media. But the road to the top has had its fair share of setbacks.

Watching her diet is a challenge exacerbated by the an intolerance to bread and pasta. As a sufferer of coeliac disease, a stomach condition which that prevents her eating gluten, her weight is constantly hovering around the 8 stone mark. Hayley’s entry into the world of race riding was also marred. On her first ever tide back in 2000 at her local track, Southwell, 17-year old Hayley was aboard a 25-1 chance, Markellis. The horse suffered a fatal injury mid-race and was humanely destroyed.

Rather than discourage her from the sport, made the impressionable jockey even more determined. Just seven rides later, Generate gave Turner her first win, she recalls
"It was a bit of a steering job, really. I watch the video now and I just cringe. I think to myself, 'Look at those arms. How did I win that?' "

In March 2009, she a sustained a very serious head injury following a stalls accident at Newmarket. Described by Hayley "I was exercising a horse, and it fired me into the ground. I remember coming out of the stalls and that's about it for a few weeks.

The accident caused immediate cranial bruising and bleeding from the ears. Hayley was stood down for a year, she could not ride in any races. Instead of resting for the twelve months, she appealed the ruling and was back race riding within four months.

She is affiliated with Michael Bell, a trainer with whom she was apprenticed and is insipring a generation of new female jockeys to join the ranks of their male counterparts.

Not alone is her success to date incredible, it is, more importantly, profoundly affecting. In an interview six years ago, Turner was asked about her biggest challenge as a female rider. Surprisingly, it was not competing in a finish against naturally-stronger males or worrying about injuries or failures. With her finger firmly on the pulse, she said “It's finding the owners and trainers with the courage to put a girl on a horse”

Since that interview in 2005, those owners and trainers who put their faith in Hayley Turner have been richly rewarded. Not alone in monetary terms, but in being associated with a young rider who is determined to succeed and who you know in your heart, will.

More luck to her.