Girls Team wins first Shergar Cup; Take scores 12 as team takes third place
Excitement charged the Shergar Cup jockey championship at Ascot Racecourse Saturday, Aug. 8, as the Girls Team scored its first victory to claim the 15th edition of the international six-race event. Victory was especially sweet as the team of female riders had missed the win by a mere one point last year.
Captained by Canada native Emma-Jayne Wilson, the team also featured Shergar Cup regular Hayley Turner of England and Sammy Jo Bell, the first apprentice to ride at the meeting. Bell, who was called up to ride late in the game to replace injured Cathy Gannon, turned out to be the star of the day, with two wins boosting her team to victory.
The Girls stopped Team Europe from making it three in a row. That team was captained by Olivier Peslier, last year’s top scorer. He was joined by Dutch rider Adrie de Vries and fellow Frenchman Vincent Cheminaud.
Four-time winner of the Cup Yutaka Take represented Japan for his seventh time. The Japanese ace rode on the Rest of the World team with two Australian riders -- Blake Shinn and team captain Kerrin McEvoy.
The Great Britain and Ireland team was once again made up of all Irish jocks. This year saw Jamie Spencer, Pat Smullen and Cup debutante Graham Lee participating.
At the end of the day, the final tally put the ladies comfortably out in front with a total 80 points. Great Britain and Ireland scored 67 points total, the Rest of the World 66, and the winless Europe team came home with pocket change of 27 points.
Sammy Jo Bell was presented with the Silver Saddle for her top score of 35 points. Emma-Jayne Wilson had 23 to her name and Hayley Turner 22.
“This was the best day of my career,” Bell added. “I can’t believe the opportunity I was given and to ride two winners and win the Silver Saddle was just amazing.”
“I admit I was a bit nervous coming in today, because I wasn’t just riding for myself, I was on a team, and wanted to ride my best for the girls,” Bell said.
"It's just absolutely amazing. I just want to say how gutted I am for Cathy that she couldn't ride, but I was delighted to get the opportunity. I was curled up in a ball watching the last race.
"It's amazing and the whole lead up to the day and the atmosphere is incredible. I'll remember this day for the rest of my life," the 24-year-old from Northern Ireland gushed.
Japan’s flag-bearer Take scored 12 points overall, one better than Yuichi Fukunaga last year.
The six races that comprised the Shergar Cup were the first six races on the Saturday card at Ascot. Fifteen points were awarded for a win, 10 for a second-place finish, seven for third, five for fourth and three for fifth place (non-runners scored 4 points). Each jockey was to have five rides. This year, all races had 10 in the field and were run over turf with an official rating of “good to firm.”
In the Dash, the 1,000-meter first leg of the five-race event, Take received four points when his mount, the 9-year-old gelding Hawkeyethenoo crossed the line in fourth place, only half a length behind Justice Day ridden by Hayley Turner. Kerrin McEvoy’s Secretinthepark won the race, with Pat Smullen on runnerup Dutch Masterpiece a short head behind. Hawkeyethenoo had held back in the early stages but remained in touch and made progress with 1 furlong left and stayed to nab fourth.
Take had no mount in the second leg Stayers, which gave the Girls’ Team its first win. Sammy Jo Bell rode the 5-year-old Royal Signaller. Kerrin McEvoy made the top three again with a second aboard Buckland, a 7-year-old by Oratoria and Blake Shinn came third on the 8-year-old Teak.
Take had his best result next up, with a third-place finish just a bit more than half a length off the winner in the 2,400-meter Challenge. Take’s mount Barwick, a 7-year-old by Beat Hollow, followed second-place finisher Elbereth, with Graham Lee up. Winner was Missed Call, with the women scoring their second win, this time with Emma-Jayne Wilson in the saddle. Barwick, trained by Ian Williams, held back toward the rear, then closed on the front with 400 meters to go. He neared the frontrunners in the final furlong, but came up short of pace at the finish.
Take road the 9-year-old Directorship to an eighth-place finish in the Mile, which went to Jamie Spencer aboard a 4 year-old gelding named Halation. Graham Lee came in second aboard Earth Drummer, by Dylan Thomas, with Blake Shinn in third on a horse with a mouthful of a name -- Bancnuanaheireann.
The Classic, the 2,400-meter Shergar fifth leg, saw Take aboard the 3-year-old gelding Percy Veer, by Sir Percy. He managed sixth place but again acquired no points. Sammy Jo Bell got her second win of the day and gave her team its third when she guided the 3-year-old colt Shelly Bay to the win, 3/4 length ahead of Perestroika, with Olivier Peslier up. Pat Smullen rode Triple Dip to third place.
The last race, the 1,200-meter Sprint, gave Take another eighth place and added no points to his score. The 3-year-old gelding did chase the leaders well but ran into traffic a furlong out, then weakened. Jamie Spencer collected a fat 15 points for winning on Moonraker, and Hayley Turner upped the ante for the Girls’ Team by 10 with a second on Squats. Blake Shinn took third on Desert Force. Graham Lee was knocked off his horse when it stumbled at the break.
Take commented on the day, saying, “It’s too bad that I didn’t get good results in either the individual competition or as a team. I was really hoping to get good results in the latter races since I’d gotten points in the first two legs.
“The results were disappointing but I am proud to have had this opportunity to ride at Ascot as the representative of Japan,” Take said, remaining upbeat. “It was a lot of fun and a meaningful day for me. I plan to use this stimulus as nourishment and to polish my skills and I will do my best so that I can someday be recognized here again,” the 46-year-old Take said.
“I’ll be riding (Sunday) and Monday in France as well and, if I get the chance, I’d like to take any opportunity to ride abroad. I ask for your continued support.”
Riders in order of number of points scored were: Sammy Jo Bell, 35; Jamie Spencer, 30; Kerrin McEvoy, 30; Blake Shinn, 24; Emma-Jayne Wilson, 23; Hayley Turner, 22; Graham Lee, 20; Pat Smullen, 17; Olivier Peslier, 13; Yutaka Take, 12; Vincent Cheminaud, 11; Adrie de Vries, 3.
Please visit the following websites for more information.