Four teams representing Europe, Rest of the World, Great Britain & Ireland and The Girls go head-to-head in a competition played out over six competitive handicaps for the chance to lift the coveted Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup trophy, the Silver Saddle awarded to the individual amassing the most points and the Dubai Duty Free Ride of the Day.
Great Britain and Ireland were crowned champions for the first time in competition’s present format, Fran Berry's winning ride in the last race, the six-furlong Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint, aboard Golden Apollo, clinching the award for the home team with 86 points ahead of Rest of the World on 67.
Golden girl of the saddle Hayley Turner made her 11th Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup appearance, but it wasn’t to be hers or the Girls’ day. Ninety two jockeys had taken part in in the sixteen previous renewals to which four more were added, debutants Alexander Pietsch from Germany for the European team: Hollie Doyle for the Girls: and Anthony Delpech from South Africa and Keita Tosaki from Japan for the Rest of the World.
The newcomers had a lot of catching up to do. Hayley Turner has not only made the most appearances she has accumulated the most points (215) and most wins of jockeys currently riding. The competition’s winning-most jockey Richard Hughes had the chance to become the first Shergar Cup rider to train a winner – in the last of the six £45,000 races.
The competition got off to a thrilling start when Great Britain & Ireland captain Jamie Spencer’s late winning dash on Stake Acclaim inducted him into a select group of riders to have scored 2,000 victories in Britain on the Flat.
Stake Acclaim ran just seven days previously behind stablemate Lancelot Du Lac in the same lucky colours of Michael and Heather Yarrow in the prestigious Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood – except this time their horse wore the green and black colours of GBI.
For the second race, the two mile Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers, trainer Jim Goldie brought Euchen Glen all the way down from Scotland. Ably assisted by Dutchman Adrie de Vries Euchen Glen came from last to first to win the ride of the meeting award from former Derby-winning jockey John Reid.
First two places went to the European team and saw them catapult into a lead over GBI. But that was the only time GBI were ever threatened and they soon returned to head the table with Great Hall (Fran Berry) and Gawdawpalin (Jamie Spencer) making it one-two for them in the third race, the middle-distance Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Challenge.
The tension which usually surrounds the final race was focussed on whether Fran Berry could be caught by Spencer or Alexander Pietsch for the title of top jockey on the day. Berry quickly put that conundrum to bed with comfortable victory in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint on Golden Apollo.
Berry also took the Alistair Haggis Silver Saddle winner for leading jockey in 2010. He had guided outsider Great Hall to victory in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Challenge and Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Dubai Duty Free took to the podium to hand the trophy to trainer Mick Quinn, doubly delighted because victory with Great Hall, on his first visit to the course, was with Quinn’s own horse.
Raising Sand on the other hand had won on his last visit to Ascot last year. Given a great ride by an exultant former German champion jockey Alexander Pietsch, on his Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup debut and only his second ride at Ascot. It took Pietsch into the lead, briefly, for the Silver Saddle.
In the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Classic the Rest of the World began a charge with Glenys The Menace and Contango giving them a one-two. Many times South African champion Anthony Delpech, riding in Britain for the first time, steered home the winner. But they could not sustain the momentum eventually finishing second to GBI nearly twenty points in arrears. The team anthem of The Boys are Back in Town rang out appropriately for GBI’s first victory since the format became a four team challenge in 2007.
After the closing ceremony there was a rush from the parade ring to the post-racing concert headlined by Craig David and featuring top DJ Scott Mills, All Saints and Feeder.