They did it… and boy did they enjoy it! After last year’s near one-point miss, The Girls team got the result they were looking for and were crowned Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup champions for the first time.
The three heroines were understandably delighted with their efforts and in the winners’ enclosure after the last the champagne flowed, along with smiles, giggles and a general feeling of a job well done.
The team was captained by the bouyant Emma-Jayne Wilson, with Shergar Cup regular Hayley Turner her wing lady, and late call up, Sammy Jo Bell, the first-ever apprentice to ride at the meeting, making up the trio.
The girls did not get off to a rapid-fire start – the Rest of the World team’s full-house of placings in the first bounced them out in front, with Kerrin McEvoy stealing a march on the battle for the Silver Saddle, but Bell’s two victories and Wilson’s hard-fought success on Missed Call, a win which earned her ride of the day, pushed the Girls into the lead after the fifth race.
Things were still tight at the top for the last race, with only 14 points separating the top three teams, but just sometimes things are just meant to be. The Girls’ efforts, determination and enjoyment of the Shergar Cup could not be denied and they justifiably took the day’s honours.
Bell became the first-ever female winner of the Silver Saddle, presented in memory of PR man Alistair Haggis, who had been so involved in the formation and development of this day, and who lost his own battle last November.
"It's just absolutely amazing," said Bell. "I just want to say how gutted I am for Cathy that she couldn't ride, but I'm delighted to get the opportunity and I'm delighted. I was curled up in a ball watching the last race.
"It's amazing and the whole lead up to the day and the atmosphere is incredible. I'll remember this day for the rest of my life."
Captain Wilson enthused: “We’ve all pulled together. It’s been a great effort, Sammy has enjoyed a rock-star day – good on her. I am so pleased we’ve done this.”
“Alistair isn’t here this year, but he was so instrumental in this day – he would have loved our success,” added Turner.
Final results – The Girls on 80, ahead of the Rest of the World on 67 and just a point ahead of Great Britain and Ireland on 66. Last year’s winners Team Europe had a day they’d want to forget scoring just 27 points and no wins.
With beautiful weather throughout and a fantastic concert to round things off, it has certainly been a sporting and musical day to remember.