‘If I can inspire someone today, that’s wonderful’: amateur becomes first female jockey to win Aintree’s Becher Chase

  • Amateur National Hunt jockey Lucy Turner, 30, made history at Aintree Racecourse, Merseyside, on Saturday (9 December) as the first female jockey to win the BoyleSports Becher Handicap Chase over the world-famous Grand National fences.

    Lucy has worked at Venetia Williams’ Herefordshire stables since she left school – her father worked there before her – and she triumphed on the yard’s 18/1 shot Chambard, an 11-year-old gelding owned by David and Carol Shaw. The yard favourite often races with his teeth out looking like a big grin, and this was his fifth win over fences since Lucy took the reins at the start of last year.

    One of Lucy’s career highlights was winning the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival last year on the same brilliant horse.
    However, this was their first attempt at Aintree’s unique obstacles together and the pair quickly found a beautiful rhythm and looked to be loving the experience. They lobbed along with the front runners for much of the 3m2f race, effortlessly clearing the famous Grand National jumps including Becher’s Brook, Foinavon and The Chair.

    When the underfoot conditions, combined with driving wind and rain, started to take is toll on much of the field – only five of the 12 starters crossed the line, separated by 137 lengths – Lucy and the son of Gris De Gris took up the running and soared across the line some 13 lengths clear of their nearest challenger, the Gordon Elliott-trained top weight Coko Beach, with Danny Gilligan in the saddle.

    Finishing third was Percussion for trainer Laura Morgan and jockey Harry Reed, while the champion jockey Brian Hughes finished fourth on Celebre D’Allen for trainers Philip Hobbs and Johnson White.

    Winning the Becher Chase “means the world”

    Lucy’s sheer delight at winning the prestigious Becher Chase was clear to see.

    “Chambard has been fantastic for me, and I am so pleased for owners David and Carol Shaw, who have been great supporters of mine over the last few years, so it is nice to get another big one for them. He hasn’t jumped these fences before, so we said we’d see how he takes to them, but that was the best spin I’ve ever had round there and he just loved it and kept galloping,” she said.

    “As soon as they came to him, he quickened again. I could hear the others coming, but he’d gone again, and at the last he was like a fresh horse.

    “I’ve always wanted to ride a winner over these fences, so to do it on him means the world. It was a bit hard trying to see coming into the home straight with all the rain coming down and the headwind, but he was a total professional. I think he surprises people; they think, ‘Can he go and do that?’ but then he shows them he can. I thought the way he jumped round Cheltenham last time, if he jumped like that round here he’d be absolutely fine, and as soon as he was over the first couple I knew he was loving it.”

    Cheshire-based owner David Shaw said: “We’ve been lucky enough to have a few winners with Venetia – we thought Cheltenham was the pinnacle, but this gets pretty close to that. We love having Lucy on board!”

    Lucy said she had a moment of disbelief, even after crossing the line.

    “In the final furlong you just want to keep kicking until you are over the line, but I had a little look at the big screen and I could see we were clear,” she said. “After the line, I was thinking, ‘Has that actually just happened?’”

    Lucy described the win as “probably the best day I’ve ever had in racing” and the Randox Grand National itself could be the target in April.

    “Aintree is such a marvellous place, so to have a winner here is fantastic,” she said. “April is a long way away and we will think about that when the time comes, but this is a dream.

    “If I can inspire someone from the next generation by winning here today, that’s wonderful.”

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