Some jockeys are just made for a particular raceday. Lester Piggott had a pretty good thing going with Derby day but close behind that pairing on any list must come the blissful union of Hayley Turner and the Shergar Cup.
The mounts for this unusual day’s racing are distributed according to a formula that should ensure a level playing field for the dozen jockeys taking part, some of whom came from Australia and Japan this time. But once again Turner dominated, winning two of the six races and carrying off the Silver Saddle for top jockey, becoming the first to do so in consecutive years.
Her enthusiasm for the Shergar Cup is no secret and she went so far in the buildup to refer to the day as being “like Christmas for me”, but even her most loyal fans would have had to concede she arrived here in poor form. Her most recent winner was back in mid-July and she was on a losing run of 43.
“I was hoping we weren’t going to mention that,” she said, when asked about her appearance on the Racing Post’s dreaded cold list. But something about this card brings out the best in her and the 36-year-old delivered accomplished rides to land the Stayers on Eddystone Rock and the Classic on Sapa Inca, a 36-1 double.
One of the more excitable members of the press corps was moved to suggest that Turner is 10lb better here than elsewhere, bearing in mind her 33-1 success on Thanks Be in the Sandringham during Royal Ascot. She paused, seeming to consider whether this was an oblique criticism of her record at Britain’s other 59 tracks.
“I don’t think so,” she finally replied. “I think I just get on some good horses here. But I am available for Royal Ascot next year, if anyone else thinks I’m 10lb better. I should probably go with that.
“I’m really chuffed. It’s a massive thrill, this event means so much to me.” Her family had not been present to watch her on Thanks Be in June, but she made sure they were all here this time and they delivered a raucous welcome each time she returned to the winner’s enclosure. The post-racing concert, due to be headlined by Jessie J, was cancelled because of strong winds but Turner’s parting shot was: “We’ll probably do some singing in a bit.”
Turner’s team-mates, Jamie Kah and Nanako Fujita, were not so lucky with the mounts they drew, though Kah was beaten just a nose in the opener.
The team competition was dominated by Rest Of The World and there were wins for both Mark Zahra, from Australia, and Hong Kong’s Vincent Ho, who was tactically impressive in a couple of races.
One of Turner’s winners was for the trainer Mark Johnston, who said he broadly enjoyed the event but wishes Ascot would not insist on dressing the jockeys in team colours, rather than the owners’ silks that are worn on every other day of the year. “That may seem like a trivial thing but I hate it,” said Johnston, who was finding his runners hard to identify in mid-race.
“Obviously, I could see she had won but I couldn’t see where my other two were. It’s undoubtedly the same for owners.
“They can have breeches, bridles, hats but not colours. The colours belong to the owners. They’re not supposed to be camouflage. They are supposed to help us identify the horse.”