The Irish team took home top prize Saturday, Aug. 7 at Ascot for the second year in a row as the three-member team of Richard Hughes, Pat Smullen and Fran Berry topped the Shergar Cup international jockeys' competition with a grand total of 80 points.
The Shergar Cup, which was decided only in the last of the six races at Ascot, saw Europe finish a close second with 72 points, followed by the Rest of the World (of which Japan's Yasunari Iwata was a member) with 45 points and Great Britain with 43. Some 28,000 people turned out to watch the event at England's prestigious racecourse.
The Irish team only won one of the races, the Shergar Cup Stayers, as opposed to two firsts for both Europe and Great Britain. However, Ireland's riders managed four second-place finishes, enough to rack up sufficient points to boost the total to the top.
Reigning Irish champion jockey Fran Berry rode the team winner, Bernie the Bolt, and nearly took the concluding Shergar Cup Sprint on the favorite Gene Autry. But, while he could not catch Europe's captain Olivier Peslier on Gramercy, his points were enough to give him a personal total of 35 points and the Silver Saddle trophy for leading individual rider. The trophy gave Berry an additional £3,000 in prize money.
"It's a personal highlight to be here -- a dream come true," said Berry, who was making his Shergar Cup debut. Of his finish aboard Gene Autry he joked, "I was probably the happiest man ever to come second."
Japan's Iwata took part in the series as a member of the Rest of the World Team. Iwata sat out the first race of the series, then rode in the remaining five races. He gained points for his rides in the second and fifth races, with top points coming in the series' second race, the class 3 Shergar Cup Classic, a 2,400-meter turf event. The 36-year-old Iwata rode the 3-year-old Azamour colt Life and Soul to a second-place finish and gained 10 points.
Iwata gained 5 more points for a fourth-place finish in the 2,400-meter Shergar Cup Challenge aboard Safari Sunup, a 5-year-old gelding by Catcher in the Rye. Iwata's other rides, a 6th-place and two 7th-place finishes, gave him no extra points.
All three members of the Rest of the World Team -- Anton Marcus, Luke Nolen and Yasunari Iwata -- totaled 15 points each in the series, bringing the team's total to 45 points for a third-place final position.
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