Eon crowned world champion
French rider Maryline Eon was crowned winner of the inaugural Lady Jockeys' Thoroughbred World Championships in Sweden on Tuesday evening.
Hayley Turner, who retired from race-riding in 2015, made a short return to the saddle to represent Britain in the five-race competition while Sammy Jo Bell flew the flag for Northern Ireland and Ana O'Brien rode for Ireland.
However, the trio found it tough going at Bro Park near Stockholm, with Bell's second in the first event of the day proving the best placing out of the three riders.
First blood in the competition went to New Zealand's Danielle Johnson as she steered ex-British runner Stonefield Flyer to victory over six furlongs with Denmark's Sara Slot taking the second event over a mile, delivering Flying Barrel virtually on the line.
Eon then took control of the competition, claiming a narrow verdict aboard Lord Of Trouble in the third heat, which was also over a mile, before Azzola landed the fourth leg over 10 furlongs.
Going into the final leg, Eon held a seven-point lead over Slot with Johnson the only other jockey within striking distance.
Slot made sure it was a close-fought battle for the overall prize by winning the final event of the day aboard Norse Magic, but Eon claimed second aboard Loop De Li to ensure she claimed the crown.
Eon said: "It's a really great experience and I am so happy."
Bell added a third to her earlier placing to finish joint-fifth of the nine riders.
She said: "It was a fantastic day."
O'Brien and Turner both failed to make a significant mark on the competition, with the Irish rider eighth and Turner ninth.
O'Brien said: "I had a bit of fun anyway."
Turner added: "I finished last! It's been amazing and I don't really know what to say – I'm speechless."
The event was designed to promote Scandinavian racing as well as give lady riders more international opportunities and leading Swedish owner and breeder Benny Andersson was a notable backer of the competition.
The former ABBA star said: "It's been good racing, competitive and hard to predict."
Andersson added: "I am a feminist really which means providing equal opportunities for all, but I am happy to support the Lady Jockeys' Thoroughbred World Championship as it brings riders from all over the world and focuses international attention on racing in Sweden."
Turner rode a winner at Windsor on Monday evening in preparation for her Swedish trip and she admitted it had been hard work to get involved in the finishes.
She said: "I wrote myself off in the competition after the first and found myself in fight with Ana O'Brien for last place!
"It's been a great experience and a real leveller. After the high of riding a winner at Windsor last night, it's brought me right back down to earth."
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