BIZ TODAY MONITORING
DUBAI: The Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup, the world’s premier international jockeys’ competition returned to Ascot Racecourse, UK, on Saturday, 11 August when a team of three elite female riders beat-off competition from some of the world’s top international jockeys.
Four teams compete in the points-based competition which is played out over six ten runner handicaps in front of a sell-out crowd. The final scores saw The Girls take the title with 76 points ahead of Europe on 70, Rest of the World in third place with 48 points and Great Britain and Ireland two points behind in last place.
The Girls captained by Josephine Gordon who was joined by Hollie Doyle and British racing’s most successful female rider, Hayley Turner, established an early lead in the competition with Doyle ringing Tis Marvellous home in front for trainer Clive Cox in the opening Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash over the minimum trip of five furlongs, and team-mate Turner scoring valuable points finishing third on Line of Reason.
After the second race, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers over two miles, they were overtaken by Team Europe. Sweden’s Per-Anders Graberg registered his first win on only his second ride in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup. His fellow-countryman Frederik Johannsen has featured frequently and the experienced Graberg showed himself equally proficient bringing Andrew Balding’s Cleonte with sweet timing to overtake front running team mate Gerald Mosse on Stars Over The Sea. Team Europe took a single point lead over The Girls. And the tension of the struggle lasted right to the final strides of the final contest.
In the next race, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Challenge over the classic distance of twelve furlongs. Koeman, named after Holland’s former soccer captain and trained by one of England’s greatest strikers Mick Channon, went off favourite.
But Koeman could do no better than fourth, for this was proving to be Andrew Balding’s day. His Genetics, who only got in as a reserve, routed the opposition. The Girls leap-frogged Team Europe by virtue of their placings in this event – again by a single point – but couldn’t catch Andrasch Starke on the winner. Starke, knows his way round Ascot: he rode Danedream, the first German winner of the Group One King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, over the same course and distance in 2012, and had made two previous appearances in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup.
In the fourth race Hayley Turner in her record twelfth Shergar Cup and with five wins in the competition, took the lead in the individual jockeys’ title, the Alistair Haggis Silver Saddle, and projected The Girls team back to the top. In a thrilling finish Turner forced the favourite Via Serendipity’s head in front where it mattered ahead of Great Britain & Ireland’s Adam Kirby aboard Shady McCoy.
Among the international stars taking part was Brazilian ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira who completed a fantastic Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Treble for trainer Andrew Balding in the mile and a half Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Classic on Berkshire Blue, and the first leg of what was to become a double on the day for the former Hong Kong champion.
The team race going into the finale, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint over six furlongs, was tense – 68-63 to The Girls and seven points covered the leading four riders, headed by Hayley Turner, for the Alistair Haggis Silver Saddle.
And though Moreira earned the prize for Dubai Duty Free Ride of the Day aboard the winning outsider Green Power, in the tense three-way photo-finish Turner grabbed second place on Roundhay Park and the Silver Saddle by a single point from the Brazilian. Her narrow defeat sealed victory for The Girls who also took top honours in 2015.