Ebor Festival: Hayley is in the pink after victory
For a conservative community, it is still startling to see the rider of a Group One winner clasping her prize with fingers decorated in pink nail varnish, as did Hayley Turner here yesterday — or indeed to see so many kisses administered in congratulation.
But if she has earned the unanimous respect of British horseracing, then the best way of showing it is no longer to treat Turner as just an unprecedented female achiever — but as a jockey taking her rightful place among her peers in the elite.
Six weeks ago today, Turner became the first woman to ride a Group One winner outright when landing the July Cup on Dream Ahead.
Yesterday, riding another feisty female in Margot Did, she added the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes — the very race, funnily enough, in which Alex Greaves had made her own historic breakthrough by sharing a dead heat in 1997.
And if the bare form makes it hard to rate Margot Did a champion sprinter, then her partner has certainly made an unrivalled impact in the division this year.
A more obvious romance had suggested itself in the emergence this summer of Hoof It, representing the local veteran Mick Easterby.
But the favourite, dropping down from six furlongs, missed the break badly and was always on the back foot down the centre.
In contrast, Margot Did was blazing away at the head of a posse on the stands side and held another outsider, Hamish McGonagall, by three-quarters of a length.
Credit for their role must go to Michael Bell, who has supported Turner for 10 years, and of course Margot Did herself, it being rare indeed for a three-year-old filly to dominate seasoned sprinters.
Having said that, another one was unlucky not to join issue, Wizz Kid having met plenty of trouble before taking fifth, just ahead of Hoof It.
Turner offered due thanks to Bell. “It must have been difficult for him when I first started, pushing owners to put a girl on their horses,” she said.
“Hopefully I can repay him by riding winners like this. I can't believe it — it's the best season ever.”
It was also a landmark day for Alan McCabe who saddled his first Group winner, Caspar Netscher, in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes.
He may yet be targeted at the Breeders' Cup itself, and that is perhaps the next frontier for Turner, too. For now bookies offer 9-2 that she rides a Classic winner before 2016.
Meanwhile, Brian Ellison is oozing with confidence ahead of Saptapadi's run in the Ebor at York today.
Unruffled by the five-year-old's wide draw, the North Yorkshire trainer has been heartened by the form of his leading contender's last run.
That also was on the Knavesmire over an extended 10 furlongs when he was an unlucky-in-running fifth behind Twice Over in the Group Two Sky Bet Stakes.
Straight after the race, six-times champion jockey Kieren Fallon sounded Ellison out for the ride in the Ebor and the form has proved rock solid.
Twice Over paid the ultimate compliment by winning the Juddmonte International over the course and distance on Tuesday while the fourth horse that day, Class Is Class, took the Group Three Rose of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock earlier this month.
“I don't think the trip makes a difference to him.
“He's such a good horse he can run over anything from a mile and a quarter to a mile and six (furlongs).
“He's brilliant,” said Ellison.