We’ve another fantastic Shergar Cup in prospect, featuring a host of internationally successful jockeys, some of whom are Shergar Cup regulars, but also a number who are new to this unique jockeys team event.
The Shergar Cup is the world’s premier jockeys’ competition with three riders in the four teams – Great Britain & Ireland, Europe, the Rest of the World and The Girls. They will be battling against each other in an international six-race showdown.
Points are awarded to the first five horses in each race – the winner gets 15 points, the second 10 points, and then 7 points are awarded to the third, 5 for the fourth and 3 points to the fifth.
The team with the most points after the six races will be the Shergar Cup winner. The Silver Saddle award will also be presented and this goes to the jockey with the most points – and this year the prize is given in the memory of the late Alistair Haggis.
Europe is aiming to make it three Shergar Cup wins in a row (also won in 2008 and the very first running in 2000) and has a fine selection of jockeys to ride for the team this year – captain Olivier Peslier, winner of the Silver Saddle in 2014, Adrie de Vries, who is riding for the second year and is looking for a first victory at the meeting, and Vincent Cheminaud from France. It is a first time out for Cheminaud, but he burst to prominence on the track this year when winning the Group 1 Prix du Jockey-Club for leading international owner Prince Khalid Abdullah.
The team (blue) has a great chance of repeating their winning feat and Peslier could kick things off to a winning start aboard three-time Ascot winner Dungannon in the first, the 5f Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash (12.55).
That combination may have most to fear in the opener from the in-form Double Up, who has won three races this season and has not finished out of the placings in five starts. He is to be partnered by Blake Shinn riding for the Rest of the World team, and it would be a winning Shergar Cup and British debut for Australian jockey
The Rest of the World team is to be captained by Kerrin McEvoy. He knows his way around Ascot having ridden three winners at the Royal meeting, but it is a first Shergar Cup experience for him.
The pair are to be accompanied by Shergar Cup regular, the Japanese jockey Yutaka Take. He has ridden four winners at the meeting and this will be his seventh appearance at the Cup. His best chance this year looks to be on the nine-year-old Directorship in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Mile (2.40).
The Girls Team went so close last year losing out by just a point – and they will be keen to avenge their defeat. Once again, the team is to be captained by the effervescent Emma Jayne Wilson from Canada, who just missed Silver Saddle honours last year. Our leading British lady rider Hayley Turner, who has ridden at the event on eight occasions, will be her wing lady, while they are supported by apprentice Sammy Jo Bell. She was a late call up to replace the injured Cathy Gannon, but she has been making great strides in her riding career in2015.
Bell’s best chance looks to be on Shell Bay for Richard Hannon in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Classic (3.15) over 1m4f. He is an improving horse and ran a decent race last time out at Glorious Goodwood, looking as though this longer distance should suit.
The Classic and the following 6f Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint (3.50) could be a good races for The Girls team – Wilson rides the top-weight My Reward for trainer Charles Hills in the 3.15, and follows up on another top weight, Primrose Valley, in the finale.
The Girls may have most to fear from the home team of Great Britain and Ireland (green) as the three boys – Jamie Spencer, Cup debutante Graham Lee and seven-time Irish champion jockey Pat Smullen have been drawn some of the best rides on the card.
And the trio has a lot of ground to make up – the only Shergar Cup winner amongst them is Spencer with just one previous win to his name!
They might start off slowly but expect them to come with a late rattle. In the third, the 1m4f Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Challenge (2.05), Lee and Spencer ride the top two horses Elbereth and Xinbama, while Smullen partners Innocent Touch. The Richard Fahey-trained runner has been performing well this season but just missing the winning post and he should benefit from a canny ride from Smullen.
In the following Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Mile (2.40), Smullen and Lee ride two of the top three rated horses – Master The World and Earth Drummer, while in the last Lee again has a decent mount in Baitha Alga and Spencer takes the ride on the Mick Channon-trained Moonraker.
It will be a thrilling race day with some great big-race riders from all around the world taking part. So pick your team, select a favourite jockey, and cheer them home.