Racing UK

Angus McNae

Turner understands the art of race riding

4 September 2015

It is a real shame that Hayley Turner has announced her retirement.

She is a much underrated rider.

You may well say as a former Racing UK ambassador that I would say that, but at her peak a couple of years ago she was one of the best jockeys in the country.

This is an opinion that is backed up by the excellent jockey ratings compiled by John Whitley.

Before she rode any big winners these figures pointed to her talent, and she went on to prove herself to be a rider who could deliver over the next few seasons.

Why is she so good? Quite simply like all top-class jockeys she understands the art of race riding. In particular her judgment of pace gives her an edge. She rides horses patiently and is never an advocate of the ever-popular brigade who like to sit handy, and kick three furlongs out.

I remember Racing UK colleague James Willoughby asking her about the art of race riding and she nominated the start of a race as being the most important part. Not an answer that you would have got from many jockeys and an example of her understanding of the game. 

I will remember her for her cool hold-up rides; never losing her head when all about her were losing theirs. She may have been rattled by the heavy fall she took on Seal Of Approval and who wouldn't be?

If you watch her hold-up win on Castle Combe at Chelmsford on Thursday night, you will see that she has still got it. It was a ride for me that illustrated her talent perfectly.

I am lucky enough to be working at Haydock on Saturday for the third year in a row and will be joined by Mark Howard. The big race is the Betfred Sprint Cup and it is wide open this year.

As such I will be launching a twin-pronged attack on the race. Both of my selections should be backed each-way.

In rain-softened ground over six furlongs at Haydock at this time of year you have to be with Gordon Lord Byron. His record in this race reads 212 and everything is in place for a big run. He has run well in stronger Group Ones in his career and comes here not just in good form, but relatively fresh after a light campaign. Although his trainer believes he wants decent ground I believe he is at his best with some cut and will have his ideal conditions today. At 8-1 he looks an attractive each-way wager.

My second stab at the race is Mattmu. He is a consistent sprinter who won a Group Three at the Curragh recently. 

It was his eye-catching third place in the Group One Nunthorpe Stakes over an inadequate five furlongs that makes him a tempting bet here.

A quick five furlongs will never be this horse’s bag and now on easier ground, which suits him well, and over his best trip he looks to be a decent each way bet at 9-1.

The Superior Mile at 2.00pm looks to be a decent renewal and I think that last year’s runner-up Balty Boys is the one to be with.

He has run really well in big-field handicaps this season, most notably in the Royal Hunt Cup in which he was fourth when drawn on the wrong side.

His latest second place at Ascot was a cracking effort and, with some of his rivals having questions to answer in terms of their current form, he looks to be the one to be with at a fair price of 9-2.

Angus McNae's Saturday tips

2.00 Haydock: Balty Boys at 9-2 with Bet365 and William Hill

3.45 Haydock: Gordon Lord Byron each-way at 8-1 generally available 

3.45 Haydock: Mattmu each-way at 8-1 generally available

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