Shergar Cup 2019 - Preview

Shergar Cup

It may well be the start of the silly season in Britain, with the day-to-day racing menu incorporating a plethora of meetings at seaside venues such as Brighton, Yarmouth and Redcar, but there's nothing silly about the marquee fixture of the week which is undeniably the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Shergar Cup at its premier racecourse of Ascot.

Since its inauguration in 1999, the only year it was staged at Goodwood, the event remembering equine superstar Shergar has been held as a team competition over six races involving some of the biggest names on the international jockey roster.

Team sports are hugely reliant on captaincy, and in that role such high ranking names as Pat Eddery, Kieren Fallon, Hugh Bowman, Richard Hughes, Gerald Mosse, Yutaka Take, Silvestre de Sousa, Jamie Spencer and Frankie Dettori have successfully operated on Shergar Cup day.

And on the two occasions that the women's team prevailed, Emma-Jayne Wilson and Josephine Gordon led the way to victory.

The 2019 renewal sees the spotlight fall more roundly on the women's team than usual, as for the first time it will involve a Japanese rider in the form of Nanako Fujita.

In the aftermath of Deirdre's historic triumph in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, Fujita takes a compelling CV to the Cup table, being the only female jockey among the Japan Racing Association ranks and winner earlier in the year of the Women Jockeys' World Cup at Bro Park in Sweden.

She's a rising star of the weighing room, and could be an ace card in captain Hayley Turner's pack, while her compatriot Yuga Kawada will captain the Rest of the World team.

Fujita is thrilled by the honour of being selected and enthused:

"When I heard that I'd been selected as a member of the Shergar Cup, I couldn't believe it. I thought 'really, me?' I have watched racing at Ascot once before, and dreamed that some day I would ride there. Now it will come true."

Fujita turns 22 on Friday, and is delighted to be paired with Turner and Australian rider Jamie Kah.

"I'm happy to race with the famous Hayley Turner," she said. "I also heard from my friend who has ridden in Australia that Jamie Kay is an excellent jockey."

Fujita has ridden 92 career winners, and on paper looks a great asset to her team.

Hayley Turner will make a 13th Shergar Cup appearance when trying to lead the women to a repeat of their 2018 success.

Heading the opposition will be the Great Britain and Ireland team, featuring Flat jockeys' championship contender Danny Tudhope (who is making his debut at the event), dual champion jockey in the UK Jamie Spencer and multiple UAE champion rider Tadhg O'Shea, who will wear the captain's band.

Gerald Mosse forms part of the European team, alongside Cristian Demuro and Filip Minarik, while the Rest of the World team consists of Yuga Kawada, Vincent Ho Chak-Yiu and Mark Zahra.

Turner forecasts a big day for the women and explained: "We had a really good team last year with Josie Gordon and Hollie Doyle. I don't know the girls in the team this year as well, but they look to have done amazingly for themselves in their respective countries.

"You are never guaranteed to ride at this meeting, as you have to be invited to do so, and I'm very lucky to have been asked as many times. It really has become a worldwide event that is hugely enjoyable both for its participants and the racing public."

Turner became the first woman in 32 years to ride a Royal Ascot winner when steering Thanks Be home in the Sandringham Handicap. Her eyes will on Saturday be on successfully defending the Silver Saddle prize, awarded to the leading point-scoring jockey.

- By Neil Morrice

The Shergar Cup takes place on Saturday 10th August 2019. Visit Hollywoodbets for all your UK Racing betting needs!

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