Cumbria’s very own Emma Sayer brilliantly brought the curtain down on her career as a jockey with an emotional and fitting win at Carlisle’s Ladies Night.
There was not a dry eye at the course as Hackthorpe-based Sayer – who is no stranger to Ladies Night winners at her home track down the years – led Redarna to victory in the On Your Marks Get Set Glo Handicap (Pro-Am Lady Riders’ Race).
It was horse and jockey’s second straight win following their brilliant triumph together at Ascot nine days ago.
Surrounded by friends and family, including proud mum Dianne who is Redarna’s trainer, 27-year-old Sayer confirmed her retirement from the saddle immediately after the race.
She said: “I’ve had so many great memories here at this course and to ride a winner here at my final meeting as a jockey, well I really couldn’t ask for more.
“It’s been an absolutely dream summer and I can’t tell you how proud I am of him (Redarna). He has won three time here this summer – what a horse.
“I knew tonight would be the perfect way to end. This is where I’m happiest and I can’t think of a better place than to bow out than at Carlisle.”
Sayer, who will now begin work training with her mother at the family yard, near Penrith, was not the only headline grabber at Ladies Night – the UK’s only all-female jockey race meeting.
Shelley Birkett landed a brilliant double on board Zealous for Alistair Whillans and Redrosezorro for EJ Alston in a closely contested 5f handicap.
Paula Muir was named leading jockey on the night after she landed one winner, two second places and a third in front of thousands of racegoers.
After leading heavily-backed favourite Gale Force Maya home for Michael Dods, Muir said: “It’s always nice to get a win but to get a win at a meeting as special as this really means something.”
In form Megan Nicholls followed up her recent win at Goodwood with an impressive victory on 9/1 shot Moonlit Sands in the 5f Handicap Stakes ahead of Gorgeous General and Faye McManoman.
Nicholls said: “It was great to get the win. It’s a brilliant meeting, there are always packed fields and the paddock is always really busy as it was tonight. I’m really happy with that.”
There were also wins for Becky Smith on Stormin Norman, saddled by Micky Hammond, and Emily Easterby on Breathable who is trained by her father Tim.
Ladies Night was rounded off by a brilliant post-racing ‘Party In Paddock’ hosted by TV style guru Gok Wan. But not before Gok crowned Laura Penman the 2020 Style Stakes award winner.
Laura won a cool £2,000 after she was judged best dressed racegoer and she received her award alongside Ladies Night ambassador Hannah Jackson – Cumbria’s very own ‘Red Shepherdess’ – and Ladies Night’s Inspirational Lady Tracey Gannon, who is manager of Carlisle United Ladies Team.
Molly Dingwall, Carlisle Racecourse general manager, said: “It’s been a brilliant Ladies Night and to see so many racegoers dressed up and having a wonderful time with family and friends was really something.
“We saw some great racing on the track and all these incredible girls really gave it their all. Paula deservedly ended the meeting as our top jockey on the night and I was made up for Shelley with her brilliant double.
“We were delighted for Emma Sayer. She has been such a good friend of the course down the years and for her to ride a winner at her final meeting as a jockey will live with everyone who saw it for a very long time.
“We wish Emma every success in her new career working with her mum and we cannot wait to welcome her back here.”
Racing returns to Carlisle on Tuesday August 13 – the course’s Beer Festival Race Meeting. Gates open 3.10pm. First race 5.10pm. For more information go to thejockeyclub.co.uk/carlisle