JRA rider Yasunari Iwata will represent Japan in the 11th Shergar Cup international jockeys team competition at England's renowned Ascot Racecourse on Saturday, Aug. 7. Iwata will join 11 other top-class jockeys from around the world in the event, a series of six races made up of four teams – Ireland, Great Britain, Europe and the World Team – consisting of three riders each.
Iwata, 36, currently is the No. 4 jockey riding for the Japan Racing Association. With 61 wins this year, he is running a close fourth behind Hiroyuki Uchida with 62 wins and Masayoshi Ebina with 63, while Norihiro Yokoyama maintains a considerable lead in first place with 92 wins. Joining Iwata on the World Team are Australian rider Luke Nolen, the current reigning champion at Melbourne, and three-time South African champion Anton Marcus, who has been designated team captain.
The Irish team, headed by Richard Hughes, also includes Pat Smullen and Fran Berry. Riding for Great Britain will be captain Hayley Turner, Jim Crowley and Alan Munro. The European team includes Umberto Rispoli, the record-breaking young jockey who has rocketed to the upper echelons of Italian racing since riding his first winner in 2005. Also riding for Europe are Christophe Soumillon of Belgium and Frenchman and team captain Olivier Peslier
The Shergar Cup series is sponsored by Dubai Duty Free and is made up of six handicap races over turf with total prize money of £30,000 each; the Shergar Cup Dash Stakes (Class 2, 1,000 meters on a straight course), the Classic (Class 3, 2,400 meters), the Mile (Class 2, 1,600 meters), the Stayers (Class 2, 3,200 meters), the Challenge (Class 3, 2,400 meters) and the Sprint (Class 2, 1,200 meters on the straight).
The first Shergar Cup series took place in 2000 when it was staged as an owners' competition. It became a jockeys' competition in 2001 and has grown in strength ever since. From 2001 until 2006, there were two teams – Great Britain & Ireland versus the Rest of the World, with six jockeys on each team. From 2007 onward, these two teams were split in two to create the current four-team format.
The six races are limited to 10 runners with either two or three horses racing for each team, and points are awarded on a 15, 10, 7, 5, 3 basis to the first five horses home (nonrunners score 4 points). Each jockey has five rides and the team with the highest total after the sixth race wins the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup.
The series brings together some of the most established riders and some of the most promising new faces. Ascot Head of Communications and International Racing Nick Smith made special note of the fact that Iwata was the only rider from his country to win Australia's greatest race, the Emirates Melbourne Cup. He also commented: "We are delighted to have secured the participation of two highly experienced, established stars from overseas in the shape of Anton Marcus and Yasunari Iwata and two up-and-coming riders who have already made a big impression in their own countries in Luke Nolen and Umberto Rispoli."
Riding for Japan in previous years were Masayoshi Ebina in 2000, Norihiro Yokoyama in 2001, Hiroki Goto in 2002, Yuichi Fukunaga in 2006 and Yutaka Take in 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008. The tournament was won by the World Team in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2007. Last year, Ireland took home first prize.
In addition to the race prize money, the jockey amassing the most individual points will take home an additional £3,000 plus the Silver Saddle trophy. Past winners of the trophy were David Flores in 2001, Richard Hughes in 2002 and 2009, Kieren Fallon in 2003, Weichong Marwing in 2004, Ryan Moore in 2006, Hugh Bowman in 2007 and Gerald Mosse in 2008.
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Ascot racecourse: http://www.ascot.co.uk/
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