Take teams up with Whyte, Bowman in Shergar Cup at Ascot
Yutaka Take will represent Japan as part of the Rest of the World team in the six-race Shergar Cup contest Aug. 6 at England's Ascot Racecourse. Take will join team members Douglas Whyte and Hugh Bowman in Britain's premier jockeys' competition, named in honor of the 1981 ill-fated Derby winner
Teams of riders from worldwide compete over six races for the Shergar Cup trophy. The teams are Great Britain, Ireland, Europe and the Rest of the World.
Paul Hanagan will captain Great Britain's team, along with female jockey Hayley Turner and Jim Crowley. Following his 100th Group 1 success on Goldikova last Sunday, Olivier Peslier will lead the European team with fellow Frenchman Christophe Lemaire and Italian Mirco Demuro.
The Irish team will be captained for the third year by Richard Hughes, who joins forces with Fran Berry and Colm O'Donoghue. The Rest of the World fields Hong Kong leading rider Whyte, Take and Bowman from Australia.
Take, 42, who will be participating in the competition for the fifth time, is one of Japan's best known riders. The Japan Racing Association rider has won 32 races this year, bringing his total wins since his debut in 1987 to over 3,400 races. Take's legendary status was built nearly from his debut and a dizzying climb to the heights, during which he enjoyed idol status. Clans of groupies, mostly female, would be seen screaming his name at meets. Take, almost single-handedly fueling a nationwide racing boom, won leading jockey for 18 years following his debut and peaked for number of wins in 2005 with 212 first-place finishes for the year. Injury wreaked havoc with his riding career after a riding accident sidelined him from March of 2010. Though he made it back in the saddle toward year-end, he was only able to tally 69 wins for the year. Struggling to find his form again, Take currently ranks 22nd among Japan's riders for wins.
The Shergar Cup series is made up of six handicap races over turf with total prize money of £30,000 each; the Shergar Cup Mile (Class 2, 1,600 meters), the Stayers (Class 2, 3,200 meters), the Dash (Class 2, 1,000 meters on a straight course), the Classic (Class 3, 2,400 meters), the Challenge (Class 3, 2,400 meters) and the Sprint (Class 2, 1,200 meters on the straight).
Take has mounts scheduled for all but the Dash. He is paired with: Master of Arts in the Mile, Ile de Re in the Stayers, Art History in the Classic, Rock A Doodle Doo in the Challenge and Googlette in the Sprint.
The first Shergar Cup series took place in 1999 when it was staged as an owners' competition. It became a jockeys' competition in 2000 and has grown in strength ever since. From 2000 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 each 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 (non-runners 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.
Although the six races are limited to ten runners and two reserves each, this year saw total of 207 entries, with the smallest entry 21 for the Sprint.
Riding for Japan in previous years were Masayoshi Ebina in 2000, Norihiro Yokoyama in 2001, Hiroki Goto in 2002, Yuichi Fukunaga in 2006. Take rode in 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008. The tournament was won by the world team in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2007.
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.
Last year again, the Irish team took home top prize as Richard Hughes, Pat Smullen and Fran Berry topped the competition with a grand total of 80 points. Fran Berry won the Silver Saddle with 35 points. Yasunari Iwata represented Japan as a member of the Rest of the World Team along with Anton Marcus and Luke Nolen. Their team finished with 45 points for a third-place final position.
The six-race event gets under way Saturday with the Mile at 12:50 p.m. local time and wraps up with the Sprint at 3:35 p.m.
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