THE DUBAI Duty Free Shergar Cup may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but the quality of racing looks decidedly good this weekend at Ascot.
Each team has three riders who will have either two or three horses in each race (this balances itself out over the day) with fields limited to 10 runners, and points are awarded to the jockeys on their finishing position.
A win is 15 points, second is 10, third is seven, fourth is five and fifth is three. Each jockey will have five rides and just in case there are any injuries there is always a substitute jockey available!
Quite simply, the team with the highest total after the sixth and final race lifts the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup.
Organisers feel they have pulled off quite a coup by securing the services of Danny Tudhope and Nanako Fujita for this year’s event.
It will be a first appearance at the meeting for both 33-year-old Tudhope, who currently sits second in the Flat jockeys’ championship, and Japanese star Fujita, winner of this year’s Women Jockeys’ World Cup at Bro Park in Sweden.
Riding at the Berkshire track may be a new experience for Fujita, but Tudhope will be looking to replicate some of the magic that saw him secure four winners at this year’s Royal meeting, which included Group One glory aboard Lord Glitters in the Queen Anne Stakes.
With competition stalwart Hayley Turner, who lifted the Silver Saddle prize for the leading rider when helping the Girls team win the competition last year, joining forces with Fujita and Australian rider Jamie Kah, it would come as no surprise should they triumph again.
In the opener DANZENO has won twice and finished third in the Wokingham and remains on a decent mark. SPEEDO BOY has flopped on two of his three starts this year, but they were on bottomless ground in the Chester Cup and when the bit slipped through his mouth in the Northumberland Plate, and this course and distance winner can get back to winning ways in the 1.40.
The next race looks set up for BIG KITTEN to claim his first win on turf and the longer trip should suit while Ed Walker’s GEORGE WILLIAM is Carrigill’s 11/2 nap in the Shergar Cup Mile at 2.50. Marcus Tregonning’s progressive POWER OF DARKNESS might just put him in the shade.
The consistent ROWLAND WARD has yet to finish out of the first four in six starts and looks sure to go well again in the 3.25, while VICTORY DAY narrowly failed to justify favouritism at York in June and deserves another chance. William Haggas only just failed to nail Recon Mission and more is expected.
Haggas has a tremendous record at Redcar and punters should take note if COUNTRY turns up for the Straight Mile Series Qualifier which, strangely enough, is run over 1m 2f. He opened his account here over 7f at the second attempt last season and lived up to short-odds favouritism over this longer trip at Ripon last month, and his opening mark of 88 looks appealing.
Carrigill’s nap: (money back as a free bet if finishes outside top 4): GEORGE WILLIAM, Saturday, Ascot, 2.50.
Augur’s best bet: COUNTRY, Saturday, Redcar, 4.05.