Matchbook Exclusive: Why Hayley Turner is crossing the channel to take on the French

8 min

Hayley Turner talks exclusively to Matchbook about her big move to France and why she’s making a grand retour to the saddle

Hayley Turner broke the mould as a jockey and so it’s no surprise to see her once again ready to shake up the racing world. She has established herself as one of the faces of racing this summer through her work with ITV, but for someone as driven as Hayley she was never going to twiddle her thumbs all winter when a huge opportunity was beckoning over the channel.

After a record breaking career in UK racing Hayley is ready to take on the best that France can offer on the all-weather circuit there this winter. Here she talks us through why she’s made the move, what her plans are and why the controversial introduction of a 2KG (4.4lbs) claim for female jockeys in France was just too appealing to ignore…

So you are back riding full time? Why the big change?

I just thought what the hell am I going to do with myself all winter?

I’m a driven person and I’m always looking ahead to the next challenge and I don’t want to be sat around Newmarket twiddling my thumbs all winter.

ITV only cover the jumps during the winter and my knowledge isn’t good enough for that so I had to find something to keep my occupied and heading to France just seemed like a no brainer.

Why France? Why now?

I enjoy riding still. I’m still fit and healthy and I train hard.

I’ve been lucky enough to get a few rides from Michael Bell recently, and I’ve really enjoyed it. Besides, what else would I do from October to April?

I enjoy riding, I like challenges and I’m getting a big advantage with the claim. I don’t think it takes much working out really.

So the claim was a big factor in the decision?

I know it’s controversial, but the claim for the girls in France is 2kg, and I would be mad to not try and take advantage of it. It’s a big leg up for me being able to claim 4.4lbs against some jockeys I’ve probably had more winners than. It’s a no brainer.

Did you consider the AW circuit in the UK?

I did, but I don’t want to ride on the all-weather over here. There is a lot of travelling involved, the prize money isn’t very good and I’ve done it for years and years anyway.

I want to do something different.

I’ve got a great agent in Herv√© Naggar and I will just see what happens and try and have some fun.

Burano ridden by Hayley Turner comes home at Newbury Racecourse, Oct 2014

What are the plans?

I’m going to finish the season with ITV as I’ve really enjoyed working with them and hopefully that will continue next year.

The season closes pretty much on Champions Day and I am going to head over to France then and start getting a few rides over there.

I have to go over and see what it’s like and if I enjoy it. I can’t plan any further ahead than the winter for now.

What are your expectations from France?

I’m not expecting to take over the world when I get there. I’ve always taken each day at a time throughout my career so I will see what happens.

I’m totally winging it when I get there to be honest, but I would like to ride a few winners and I’d like to speak French a lot better than I do now.

I’m looking forward to the challenge, meeting new trainers and owners and riding with new jockeys on new tracks.

Are you still going to be involved with ITV?

I hope so. ITV have been amazing. I am working with a load of experts and they have helped me massively and improved my confidence. They let me make mistakes and help me improve and I think they can see I’m slowly getting better and I hope they persevere with me. I’m not cutting any ties with ITV. I really hope to be back next year.

Hayley Turner joined Matchbook as a brand ambassador at Goodwood 2016

How are you feeling about those first few rides?

I’m excited and I’m looking forward to it. Something like this is quite scary, but I like a challenge like that.

It will be interesting to see the differences too as they tend to go a little bit slower over there and then quicken.

But it’s all new to me and it will be a rapid learning experience and I love to challenge and push myself to try new things.

Is this why you are involved with Matchbook?

I love working with Matchbook, they are so much fun. It’s only their first year and they’ve made a big impact already and hopefully we can think up some new ideas and keep progressing and developing.

That’s why I am doing this. I still want to progress and push myself to do new things.