Sunday 25 February 2018

Turner and Margot glorious first among equals

Chris McGrath

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 Hayley Turner did at York yesterday -- or, indeed, to see so many kisses administered in congratulation.

But if she has earned the unanimous respect of the racing world, 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 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, 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 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 the 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 was also a landmark day for Alan McCabe, who saddled his first Group winner, Caspar Netscher, in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Gimcrack Stakes.

Robert Winston had Caspar Netscher (5/1) settled beautifully in the rear as Burwaaz took the field along. Despite wandering to his left, he galloped on strongly to win by two and a quarter lengths from Lilbourne Lad, which pipped Burwaaz for second by a head.

Caspar Netscher may yet be targeted at the Breeders' Cup, and that is perhaps the next frontier for Turner, too.

Green Destiny, which is proving an enigma for punters, made a triumphant return to the scene of his John Smith's Cup triumph to take the Strensall Stakes.

Kieren Fallon brought the William Haggas-trained four-year-old through the pack to lead a furlong out and the 11/4 joint-favourite held the always-prominent Tazahum by a length and a quarter.

Crackentorp (33/1) provided connections with great solace for missing out on the Ebor when winning the Bet Mobile Stakes at York.

Trained in nearby Great Habton by Tim Easterby, the six-year-old gelding came out a head in front under David Allan following a lengthy scrap towards the far rail with runner-up Kiama Bay and Prompter. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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