Hayley Turner eager to tackle International Jockeys Challenge
The 38-year-old expects to be back riding again in Britain in the new year before heading off to Saudi Arabia at the end of February.
“The thumb is fine. I broke it at Wolverhampton a few weeks ago,” said Turner.
“I did it the last day before we had a little break – I’d pulled up one of David Simcock’s horses after the line and he just fell over. It was just unlucky.”
Apparently it’s a bit like Belmont Park and I’ve ridden there a few times before. It’s exciting to be part of the Saudi Cup meeting, it’s been attracting a lot of people. The prize money is amazing so it’s easy to see why
Turner will then set her sights on the stc International Jockeys Challenge run at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in Riyadh, as part of the two-day Saudi Cup meeting, which is headlined by the $20million Saudi Cup – the world’s most valuable race.
The jockeys’ competition, run on Friday, February 23, features four handicap races worth $400,000 each, with a further $100,000 prize fund for the challenge itself.
Seven international female riders will take part, along with five international males and two local men, with the jockeys receiving 15% of prize money won.
“This will be my first time riding in Saudi and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Turner.
“Hollie (Doyle) rode out there this year and I’ve spoken to a few others who have said it’s a really nice track to ride.
“Apparently it’s a bit like Belmont Park and I’ve ridden there a few times before. It’s exciting to be part of the Saudi Cup meeting, it’s been attracting a lot of people. The prize money is amazing so it’s easy to see why.
“I always enjoy riding in jockey challenges. I’ve taken part in quite a few – Mauritius, South Africa, Japan, Ireland and France – and obviously the Shergar Cup is one of my favourites. It will be nice to tick another one off the list.”
Among those facing Turner will be recently retired Australian superstar Glen Boss, who climbs back into the saddle to compete in the four-race contest.
Last year’s winner Shane Foley also returns to defend his crown.
Foley, currently sidelined after having a hip operation this week, hopes to be fit in time for the Saudi Cup weekend, where a total prize purse of $31.5m is on offer for Saudi Cup day alone.
“I really enjoyed my first International Jockeys Challenge,” said Foley.
“It was a pleasure to ride against some great jockeys and I thought the track rode very well. It’s nice to see them including the turf in this year’s event, which might even give the European jockeys a bit of an edge.”
He added: “The prize money is brilliant, and you just have to see the list of jockeys that go out there to gauge how important it is for us. It’s nice to be competing alongside them all and the likes of Saudi, Dubai and Bahrain are the places we need to be during the winter.
“I know Jessie (Harrington) will be aiming a couple for the Saturday too, including Ever Present in the Red Sea Turf and possibly Confident Star in the Saudi Derby, so it would be nice to have some rides on Saudi Cup day too.”
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