Sammy Jo Bell is excited to be taking part in the
inaugural Lady Jockeys' Thoroughbred World Championship on Tuesday.
The competition will take place at Europe's newest racecourse, Bro Park, in Sweden and features nine riders from Asia, Australasia and Europe. Bell is joined on the trip from Britain by Hayley Turner, who comes out of retirement to take part, as well as Ireland's Ana O'Brien. French jockey Maryline Eon, Stefanie Hofer of German, Sweden's Fanny Alson and Danish rider Sara Slot are the other European contenders. The other participants are star apprentice Kei Chiong from Hong Kong and New Zealand's leading female jockey Danielle Johnson, currently second in the New Zealand jockeys' championship.
Bell said: "I'm really looking forward to it. It's something new and it should be good fun. I think the way they've done it should mean that everyone has a fair chance and it should be quite tight. I'm just delighted to be taking part. It will be the first time I've ridden in Sweden, so it will be a totally new experience."
Bell starred alongside Turner in the Girls Team that won the Shergar Cup at Ascot in 2015 and also claimed the Silver Saddle after winning two of the six races, but on Tuesday the two riders will be in direct competition.
"It's obviously similar to the Shergar Cup in some ways, but it's an individual competition instead of being a team thing, so it will be every woman for themselves," B ell added. "You don't get many opportunities to be crowned world champion in anything, so we'll give it a go. Just to ride a winner would be brilliant."
The Lady Jockeys' Thoroughbred World Championship will be decided on a points basis over five nine-runner races. Four independent experts have assessed each race and ranked the runners 1-9 before dividing the rides into three groups - Group A (top rated category), Group B (second rated category) and Group C (third rated category). Each rider will be drawn to ride one horse from Group A and two horses from each of the other two groups over the five races, to ensure they all have equal opportunities for victory. All five championship races will be broadcast live on Racing UK, with the first race due off at 5.10pm.
"We are delighted to welcome nine of the best female riders from all over the world to compete at Bro Park, and wish them all the best of luck", said director of racing at Svensk Galopp, Dennis Madsen.
Hayley Turner warmed up for the meeting as she returned to the saddle with a winner when steering Flying Sparkle to victory at Windsor on Monday (3rd July) evening. Turner retired from race-riding in 2015, but will take part in the Lady Jockeys' Thoroughbred World Championships in Sweden on Tuesday and decided to partner Michael Bell's filly in a warm-up for the event. Sent off an 11-2 chance for the EBF Stallions Fillies' Novice Median Auction Stakes, Flying Sparkle could be called the winner from some way out, eventually coming home two and a quarter lengths clear.
Turner, who now works for ITV Racing and At The Races, admitted the victory had reassured her as to her fitness for Tuesday's five-race competition at Bro Park.
She told At
The Races: "It was fantastic as I've
been getting fit riding out for Michael Bell. He saw I was getting on with the
filly so well, I jumped her out of the stalls the other day and she jumped so
well for me, so he thought he might as well keep the partnership intact. I
train very hard at home with hill runs, I'm in the gym all the time and I ride
out, but you can't really beat race riding. I was worried when I got down to
the start I was blowing, but she made it easy for me. I've got five rides in Sweden so I
will be blowing even harder tomorrow! I've enjoyed the time out I've had, I've
been able to do different stuff and learn new things so it's been fun. I'm just
lucky Michael Bell had the confidence to put me back up."