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An Interview with Top Amateur Lucy Turner

I’ve interviewed jockeys and I’ve interviewed racing grooms but not a jockey who rides big winners and then will be back on a racecourse leading up. Thus, it was a treat to interview amateur jockey Lucy Turner who, since leaving school, has been a big part of Venetia Williams’ Aramstone stables.

Lucy winning the Becher on Chambard

Photo Credit: Grossick


In what was a race of pure annihilation on heavy ground, Lucy, 31, won the 2023 Becher Chase on Chambard by thirteen lengths for owners David and Carol Shaw. That was her fifth win on ‘Chammy’, perhaps bettering her 2022 win in the Kim Muir but only by a whisker. ‘When Chammy is in good form he gives you a great feel!’ enthused Lucy. Her voice bubbled with excitement in retelling the memories of the big days they have shared together. ‘In the past, he hasn't been the best jumper and that's how I got the ride on him. At the start of this season, he ran really well at Cheltenham (when he was second in November) and jumped really well. Despite the doubters, I thought if he jumped as well as that then he'll be OK round Aintree. Also, I knew if he wasn't enjoying it then I’d look after him.’

Since Caroline Beasley became the first lady jockey to win over the Aintree fences in 1986 on Eliogarty in the Foxhunters’, there is a short but prestigious list of females who followed suit. Anthea Leigh, nee Beaumont, won the 1991 John Hughes Memorial Trophy, now the Topham, on J-J Henry; Carrie Ford, Polly Gundry, Nina Carberry and Tabitha Worsley all became victors over those big fences, culminating in Rachel Blackmore winning the 2021 Grand National. When winning the Becher, Lucy joined this role of honour by becoming the first lady to win that particular race. Not to mention that Chambard holds an entry in this year's Grand National...

               

Lucy’s successful riding career started in 2012 at Bitterly Point-to-point when she won the confined on Idole First. The winning trainer was Shirley Cadwallader, nee Vickery, who had won the 1998 Horse & Hound Cup on Teeton Mill, trained by Venetia in her early days. There were many links through the Herefordshire area between people and horses alike. Lucy’s Dad Philip had been Venetia’s head lad throughout those initial years of training. ‘Dad wasn’t horsey when he was younger but through his sister, he became horsey,’ explains Lucy. ‘He was head lad for old Michael Scudamore for a number of years, who’s retirement coincided with Venetia starting up so Dad went to Venetia’s as head lad. I think he was her first employee, and he stayed for twenty-four years.’

Lucy’s Mum Audrey was not from a horsey background but from a fishing family in Northumberland. Stud work brought her down south when employed by Mr and Mrs Knipe at Cobhall Court as stallion hand for the likes of Oats, Celtic Cone and Julio Mariner, as well as rehabilitation work for Venetia…so the warp and weft of the racing community continued, with a hit or two from cupid’s well-aimed arrow.

Lucy’s first winner under Rules was in a Warwick hunter chase on Pentiffic and she’s never looked back, tallying up, so far, thirteen winners ‘pointing and twenty-five winners under Rules. Other notable successes have been on Burrows Park in the 2018 Tanners Hurdle for lady amateurs at Ludlow as well as a win in a novice hurdle in April ’21 on the now Gold Cup-contender L’Homme Press – only the winning margin hinted at the horsepower beneath her, a mere twenty-eight lengths. Paws For Thought, trained by Donald McCain, gave Lucy her first victory on the Flat last July at Chester, again for owners David and Carol Shaw.

Born and raised in Herefordshire, Lucy lives two miles from the yard in Hoarwithy and classes the four retired racehorses at home as pets. The summer before last, she took her beloved Richmond, who she looked after at work and then had him as a ‘pointer, down to the beach at Rhossili for a four-day holiday with friends and he loved every minute. An honourable mention goes to ‘pets’ and other favourites Petit Lord and Rocket Ship. Throughout this very busy and horsey life, Lucy has a very supportive partner in Susie.

 

Did you have a horsey childhood? I did a lot of Pony Club, mainly competing at tetrathlon. We went to the finals four years in a row and during our last senior year, we won at Hartpury so that was really cool.

 

How did you get into racing? Even though my parents worked in racing, they never forced me to ride but I really wanted to. From a young age, I also always followed racing even before I was interested in sitting on a pony. When I actually started riding ponies, that was that. It was natural progression following on from my parents into the industry – it was always going to happen.

My first weekend at Venetia’s was when I was thirteen, which was as soon as I was allowed to go, and I then worked weekends and school holidays. I was fast-tracked through the British Racing School and started full time in September 2009.

 

Is it true you'll be riding in races and then leading up the next time you're on a racecourse? I love looking after ‘my’ five horses at work and I like going racing with them. The ones I look after are Kapga De Lily, Realm Of Glory, Laskalin, Cloudy Glen, Didero Vallis and Camulus, who I got last month.


What are your roles at work? I'm a barn leader and a medic to the horses to a block and a bit, which means I treat injuries.

 

Favourite racehorses: Latanier was my absolute baby – he was one of the horses I first looked after and one I bought home with me; he's now twenty-one. He's completely retired now, though I occasionally sit on him bareback! He'll always be my baby.

Pressurize was another favourite, who was rehomed by one of my friends and by coincidence, lives a mile away from me.

My present favourites would be Kapga De Lily and Cloudy Glen. I started riding ‘Cloud’ the year he won the ‘Hennessy’ because Izzy that used to ride him was pregnant and because he was so quirky, she stopped riding him before her other rides – so I took over. When Izzy went on maternity leave, I also took over looking after him. To be riding him when he won his ‘Hennessey’ was special and amazing. I got to lead him up in the Grand National last year, the result wasn't the best but to go was. He's ran really cracking races this year and I really love riding him despite his quirks!

 

Favourite racecourse between the Flags: I love Didmartin. A few years ago, I rode a double there so I really enjoy it.


Favourite racecourse under Rules: I should probably say Aintree!

 

How did it feel to win at the Cheltenham Festival? It was just amazing. I can't put it into words. It was quite surreal, and I couldn't believe it had happened.


How did it feel to win the Becher and be the first female jockey to do so? Again, it was a ‘has that just happened to me?’ moment.

The feeling I had from both days was similar. From quite early on, I knew Chammy was going well and giving me a great feeling. I knew I had to pinch myself and keep a lid on it. He jumped the Canal Turn and took off again and I was thinking how cool he was! Only when we were coming up to the line at Aintree, did I think then that we'd actually done it.

What are your most vivid memories of that day at Aintree? The weather was awful and I even wondered if he'd jump around there out of really deep ground, if a real stamina test would suit him. Once we're out there, we were fine. I remember jumping three out and coming round the corner and I couldn't see in the driving rain. I pulled my goggles down and that wasn't much better so I probably should have left them up. I could barely see but Chammy's ears were pricked and he was having a whale of a time.

David and Carol Shaw have been such good supporters of mine for a long time so it was special to give them a winner like that. It was nice that other owners associated with yard, Frank and Elaine Mahon, were there, because, in the past, I have ridden for them and they owned Latanier when he was in trqining and gifted him to me on his retirement.

 

What are the best aspects working at Venetia’s? Is a nice place to work, the horses are happy and relaxed and get turned out daily. Plus, you get to go racing with the horses you look after so it's very fair.

 

What kind of boss is Venetia? Venetia is a good boss – she's been very supportive. If you need to have a chat with her about anything, she's always there and she's been very good to me.

Lucy finishing third on Kapga Du Lily who she also looks after,

winning at Ludlow and leading up Richmond, who she still has in retirement


What is your daily routine at the yard? I muck out my five, ride out two lots, have breakfast and ride out another two lots. There is a small army of ground staff who do a lot of the turning out. I then work the afternoon shift. I turn out my horses if they haven't already been out and I'll do my skipping out and grooming before doing the medicals on my block.

 

Growing up, which jockeys did you admire? Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh were good role models. They were riding in big races and being female as well, I remember that was important to me from a young age. I also remember Carrie Ford winning the Foxhunters at Aintree and riding in the National.

 

Which jockeys do you admire now? Rachel Blackmore, who is an incredibly lovely person but also such a talented rider.

Winning at Chester on Paws For Thought for Donald McCain


Which horse would you have loved to ride? I was a massive fan of Denman. He was really special. I love Golden Miller; that's going back a while so but he's still my idol.

 

What is the best racing party you've attended? We had a brilliant Christmas party last year. It was in a local pub with a brilliant band and it was a burger night, so it was all a bit different. But, the party we had at the end of Cheltenham after the two winners was great and the Hennessy party was amazing, especially as I was a small part of that big win.


What are the best aspects of being a jockey? Definitely winning!

Just riding over fences and me and the horse are in rhythm and they're jumping well, I’m seeing nice strides and we're having fun.

 

And, the worst aspect of being a jockey? Injuries.

 

Favourite meal: Pizza or a good salad.

Favourite drink: Coke Zero.

Favourite snack: I have a very big soft spot for Happy Hippos. I could eat a whole box in one go!

Favourite book: I love reading. I can't pick a favourite book but I really like the authors Lisa Jewell and JoJo Moyes.

Favourite movie: Dirty Dancing.

Favourite music: It depends on what mood I'm in so it changes but I listen to a lot of older stuff. Mum's got good taste in music so I take after her – maybe I'll say Rod Stewart.

Ideal day off: Just a relaxing day, doing the horses at home, having a read.

Favourite holiday destination: I’ve only been abroad a couple of times. Over the years, most of my holidays have been spent in Northumberland, seeing family. My bucket list-holiday is Iceland – the waterfalls look incredible.

Other hobbies: I love photography and I'm into crystals. Last year, I started making wire-wrapped jewellery.

Winning the Lady Amateur Hurdle on Green Book in December 2021, riding out the

special Cloudy Glen and jumping to the front in the Becher

 

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18 feb
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Great blog only one important point Lucy forgot to include was that it wasn’t only Race horses 🏇 that she was brought up around Highland pony’s also played a part in her early childhood. Especially one in particular called Amy who thought that she was more Race Horse than Highland Pony!


Aud (Lucy’s mum).

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Loving all these memories that one interview has provoked 😄

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