Hayley Turner, who became the first female jockey to ride 100 winners in a year in Britain on Dec. 30, wants to ride better quality horses in higher-profile races during 2009.
She achieved her place in history by doing a double stint at two all-weather course -- Lingfield in the afternoon and Wolverhampton in the evening -- and had a winner at each bringing her score for 2008 up from 98 to 100.
Turner, who turned 26 on January 3, spent six months in America at the start of her career and that helped her tremendously.
She was brought up in Southwell, Britain’s smallest cathedral town which also happens to have a racecourse, by her mother who was a riding instructor.
Turner progressed from riding ponies to partnering racehorses in the school holidays for Mark Polglase who trained at Southwell racecourse before going to the Northern Racing School.
Her first race ride came at Southwell on March 27, 2000, with her initial winner being Generate in an apprentice race at Pontefract on June 4 of the same year.
Even though hooked on racing, she realized that she needed to improve her riding technique
She recalled: "I was rubbish when I started out. I used to cringe when I looked at myself on the video. So I took myself off to America to work at a pre-training center in Georgia for six months. It did me the world of good And when I came back I thought I ought to go to Newmarket."
She joined trainer Michael Bell as an apprentice in the Suffolk town which is the headquarters of British Flat racing and in 2005 shared the British apprentice title on turf with Salem Golam, with both of them riding 44 winners.
After that achievement and without a claim to help get rides, she had 36 winners in 2006 and 56 in 2007 so 2008 has been the breakthrough year. Her biggest win to date has come in a group III race.
She said after gaining her 100th winner of 2008: "My main ambition now is to get on better horses and ride in bigger races.
"I am lucky to have a job I enjoy so much. I always get stick from the other jockeys - there’s plenty of banter, but it is all good natured.
"I just have to keep doing what I’m doing. Michael Bell has given me plenty of horses to ride and as he has said, it’s easier for him to give me better horses now.
"The amount of messages I've had has been really surprising. I think what has happened is good for racing and my main priority now is to be fresh and ready for the start of the turf season in March.
"People have been really supportive and it is good for racing, I suppose. It is nice to get more people interested in racing who have no connection to the sport.
"All credit to my agent, Guy Jewell, for getting me to 100 winners. I honestly didn’t think I’d get there but Guy insisted I could and kept me going.
"I've had nearly 1,000 rides in 2008 so I am ready for a break. I’ll be taking the first half of January off and then go from there."
According to the Racing Post newspaper, 36 trainers gave Turner rides during the year, with 58 of the winners coming on artificial surfaces and 42 on turf.
Josh Apiafi, chief executive of Britain’s Professional Jockeys’ Association, commented: "We are over the moon. You wouldn’t have thought five years ago that this could have happened. It is an amazing achievement in this male-dominated sport.
"I think it proved a point when she got 67 per cent of the votes for the Channel 4 TV award (racing personality of the year) the other day - and it wasn’t me pressing redial! She is brilliant on the media front and she has just signed up as ambassador to the Prince’s Trust."
Her role for that charity which encourages young people to make the most of their opportunities will be one of many outside the saddle in 2009. She has also been signed up to be the face of the Derby, Britain’s premier Classic which is staged at Epsom Downs on the first Saturday in June.