Ladies team get off to perfect start in Shergar Cup

Joanna Mason got the Ladies team off to the perfect start in the Shergar Cup when steering William Haggas’ Amanzoe to victory in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Curtain Raiser Classified Stakes.

Victory for Mason, making her first appearance in the multi-team event as a replacement for Hollie Doyle, was never in doubt once the 5-2 joint-favourite hit the front in the home straight, sending both rider and the defending champions to the top of the leaderboard with 15 points.

“It’s a long old straight here, isn’t it?! I hoped I could do the girls proud,” said Mason, who was favourite at the start of the day to take the Silver Saddle title awarded to the top rider.

A delighted Haggas said: “She is improving. She won very nicely and has been given a perfect ride.

“One of the reasons the Shergar Cup is so successful is that it gives everyone a chance to meet a few foreign jockeys.

“It is a real global event and it is terrific that the girls have got a good start. Jo has proven that, given the right ammunition, she is just as good as anyone.”

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He added of his winner: “I think we have to go to stakes races now. She has won off 90 today and will go up to about 94 of 95. She likes fast ground, though. She has had five runs in about five weeks, it seems. We will have to think about whether she has a break or not.

“She got a nice tow into that. She hit a flat spot at Sandown and the ground was a bit slower there. She likes this quick ground and has small feet – she flies off it.

“I wonder whether she will get further. She is full-sister to Rivet, who won the Vertem Futurity as a two-year-old.”

Glorious Goodwood winner Orbaan was given a canny steer by Neil Callan to double up in the Dubai Duty Free Full Of Surprises Classified Stakes.

The 10-3 joint-favourite picked up the maximum 15 points for the Great Britain and Ireland team, with Divine Magic claiming the silver medal for the Rest of the World as Takeshi Yokoyama enjoyed a fine first ride at Ascot.

Callan said: “It was easy. It is a pleasure when you ride horses like that. It was a copy of Goodwood – he relaxes and travels. You can feel he is wanting to go and when we got to the two (furlong) pole, I was like, ‘wait a little bit longer’, and that fills him with confidence. When you pull him out, he accelerates really quickly.

“It is nice to come and win at this fantastic event.”

The Shergar Cup’s two most experienced jockeys fought out the finish of the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash as Hayley Turner aboard the 7-2 favourite Manaccan just held on from the Frankie Dettori-ridden Judicial.

The two-time Alistair Haggis Silver Saddle winner was riding her ninth winner in the event and gave the Ladies team their second success of the afternoon.

“It’s so good (to have another winner) – I thought he was my best ride,” smiled Turner, whose team were on 39 points after the win – just two behind Great Britain and Ireland.

Winning trainer John Ryan said: “I have always loved this horse and we have taken our time with him.

“I think he is a horse who is improving. He is getting stronger as he is getting older. I don’t know where we will go, but black type is definitely in the thinking.

“This was a gift, really. There was an option to come and although (owner) Graham Smith-Bernal was a little bit dubious in the sense that his horse was being thrown into a hat and you don’t know what you are going to get, we were very lucky to get Hayley and it all went perfectly.”

Themaxwecan (9-1) ended a long losing run in a thrilling finish to the longest race of the day, the two-mile Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers.

Jamie Spencer partnered the six-year-old for Mark and Charlie Johnston, with the victory extending the lead of Great Britain and Ireland at the top of the standings.

Mark Johnston said: “He is a difficult horse and bit moody at times. Jamie has not ridden before, amazingly, because he is very friendly with the owner, Dougie Livingston. He said he was beautiful jogging round and he knew turning for home he was going to run a big one.

“The owner is a big fan of Ascot. He comes to the Royal meeting every year. He has had a couple of winners here and never had a winner at the Royal meeting or the Shergar Cup before now, so it is great for him that he has come down today and he helped me fly the plane.”

It did not take long for Great Britain and Ireland to add their third victory of the afternoon when Kieran Shoemark guided Pride Of Priory to score in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Challenge.

The 3-1 winner was also a second triumph on the card for Somerville Lodge handler Haggas, and saw the GB and Ireland team strengthen their position at the top.

Haggas said: “He has won really nicely. I don’t know what we will go for. We will try to go for a nicer race now. He’s won on fast ground, which is good. I always thought he wanted a bit of dig.

“I always thought he wanted to go left-handed, while the wife (Maureen Haggas) always thought he wanted to go right-handed, so there you go.

“It is the little victories in life – and that is a big one for her!”

There was a fourth Shergar Cup winner for Emma-Jayne Wilson who guided Jungle Cove (14-1) to victory in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Mile as the Ladies team matched their Great Britain and Ireland counterparts on three winners for the day, albeit still behind on points.

Given a patient ride from the Canadian, the Jessica Harrington-trained five-year-old was pushed out for an easy success. Callan rode runner-up Redarna to top the jockey standings with two races left.

Harrington said: “It was the first time I have had a runner in the Shergar Cup and it was a fairytale ending.

“I’m thrilled with him. I was delighted when he got in, because he needed four or five to come out. He will go on any ground – he is just one of those horses.

“I’m all for the team concept. I am delighted we got a win for the girls. It was very well planned.”

There was not only a double for Spencer, but a treble for Haggas as 3-1 joint-favourite Hamaki held on bravely in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Classic.

The victory gave Great Britain and Ireland an unassailable lead in the standings, while Spencer heads the race for the Silver Saddle by two from Callan with only one race to go.

It was Callan who sealed the deal in the last, taking the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint with 4-1 co-favourite Adaay In Asia, trained by Harry Dunlop.

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