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Hayley Turner Exclusive Interview; Prize money in horse racing is barely enough for jockeys to make a decent living; Turner admits she has even been left out of pocket for doing her job on some days

Hayley Turner
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In an exclusive interview with Bettingsites.co.uk, jockey Hayley Turner criticised the amount of prize money in horse racing and revealed that some days it even costs her money to go to work.

Turner, who has ridden over 900 winners in her distinguished career, also believes there is far too much low quality racing in the UK and that much of it is to benefit bookmakers rather than the sport itself.

Interview Highlights:

  • Prize money in horse racing is barely enough for jockeys to make a decent living 
  • Turner admits she has even been left out of pocket for doing her job on some days
  • Too much low grade racing is damaging the sport and bookmakers are to blame
  • Says there is too much pressure on jockeys, partly due to introduction of Sunday racing 
  • Weighed in on debate over equal prize money between male and female sportspeople
  • Reveals who she thinks is the best up and coming female jockey in horse racing


Horse Racing prize money needs to be increased 

When asked what one thing she would change about horse racing, Turner was adamant that prize needs re-evaluating but she was unsure how the sport would do so;

“Prize money [is the one thing she would change]. I don’t know where you’d start but the amount of work that goes into it…being a jockey and comparing what we earn to what other sports people earn. It’s rather frustrating. In France I believe they have a Tote which I think works quite well but I’m not too knowledgeable about it overall so I don’t want to go too much in depth on the topic.”

Jockeys can end up spending more money than they earn on bad days

After subtracting the costs associated with travel and general expenses Turner says that on some days she has actually been left in the red after a day of racing as a jockey;

“It’s difficult as a jockey because if you go for just one ride you don’t earn any money because by the time you’ve paid your valet and your petrol you’re not going to make anything. There’s a lot of days that I’ve come to work for nothing. Some days you might even pay to go to work.”

Quality of horse racing has been sacrificed for quantity 

Data shows there are usually more than 10,000 horse races in the UK each year and Turner thinks that is far too many. She says that without the bookmakers involvement in the sport there would be far fewer;

”I think there’s far too much racing. I think there’s too much bad racing in the week. If you go to Kempton there’s no one there but it’s for the bookmakers and it’s late at night. They should dilute the lower grade racing. At the lower level there’s simply too much racing and the prize money is spread too thinly around.”

Pressure on jockeys is too intense with introduction of Sunday racing

Despite being a fan on racing on Sunday, Turner reckons its introduction has added to the burden of pressure that jockeys must battle to simply keep going in such a draining industry;

“Particularly now it’s hard because Sunday racing has become such a big thing. I know a lot of people aren’t in favour but I certainly am. We are competing against football and other sports but for me the most difficult thing is midweek racing in the evening. So you might be at Kempton in the nine o’clock and then your alarm will go off at five am the next day to ride out. So unless you’re really good at sleeping for hours and hours during the day it’s quite hard to do and it gets on top of you when you do it day after day.”

Sportswomen won’t receive equal pay until viewing figures match mens

Women in sport are still paid far less than their male counterparts but Turner doesn’t believe this is due to sexism or discrimination. She says that equality may be achieved once the popularity of female sport reaches the levels of that of male competitions;

“Women footballers aren’t going to get paid as much as the men because the viewing figures aren’t on a par, but when the game grows even more they certainly should. I don’t believe it’s for sexist reasons that they don’t get the same financial rewards, it’s just because it’s not as popular at the moment. When I started there were very few female jockeys but the change over the past 20 years has been huge. It’s probably frustrating for women in sports right now but things will continue to improve over time.”

Saffie Osbourne is best young female jockey – she’s really competing with the men

Turner named Saffie Osbourne as the female jockey who she rates as the best of the new female jockeys. She is full of admiration for the 21-year-old, who is building a budding career as a jockey;

“When she [Saffie Osbourne] first started I thought she’s going to be good. She’s very confident. I think she’s only 21 but she comes across as much more mature. She grew up with a racing background so she has a lot of knowledge of the sport. This year in particular, she’s ridden out her claim and she’s become stronger and she has a jockey coach who helps her and she’s improved so much. She’s riding against the guys now, without her claim, and she’s really competing with them.”

Hayley Turner

Hayley Turner OBE is an English jockey born in Nottingham, who competes in flat racing. Hayley has won 8 Group races across her 15 year career, including two Group 1 races and a Grade 1 race. Other notable highlights from her career include becoming the first woman jockey to ride 100 UK flat race winners in a calendar year (2008). Hayley also won the July Cup and Nunthorpe Stakes races in 2011. She retired from racing in 2015 to pursue a career in racing commentary on ITV Racing. However, since 2018, Hayley has come out of retirement and has ridden three winners at Royal Ascot.