Turner and Japanese stars share top billing as prize-money rises for Shergar Cup
Hayley Turner says she can't wait to be back at Ascot for the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot, which will be the most valuable in the meeting's history, with a £90,000 increase to the six-race card making for a total prize fund of £360,000.
Each of the races will receive a £15,000 boost, making them worth £60,000 apiece and, as usual, no entry fees will be applied.
The popular team-race event, which is designed to attract a more diverse racing audience, takes place on August 10 and the four captains were revealed on Tuesday.
Turner, who claimed the Silver Saddle last year as leading rider, will lead the girls, who were the winning team in 2018. She will be joined by Japanese sensation Nanako Fujita and Australian rider Jamie Kah, who claimed a first career Group 1 success aboard Harlem in the Australian Cup at Flemington in March.
Turner said: "It's my favourite day of the year because it's such fun. It makes a change to the rest of the racing season and it's nice to have teams as well. I can't wait.
"I'm looking forward to meeting Nanako and Jamie and it looks a strong team."
Great Britain and Ireland will be captained by Tadhg O'Shea, with jockeys' title contender Danny Tudhope also set to ride.
Four-time champion of Germany Filip Minarik will lead the European team, while further Japanese interest has been added with current championship leader Yuga Kawada captaining the Rest of the World team.
Nick Smith, director of racing and communications at Ascot said: "The jockey line-up is looking strong, and will be confirmed as soon as retainer commitments are known. We are delighted with the domestic and international line-up.
"In Danny Tudhope, who leads the British jockeys’ championship and rode four winners at Royal Ascot, and in star Japanese jockey Nanako Fujita, who is that nation’s highest-profile female rider ever and winner of the recent Women Jockeys' World Cup at Bro Park in Sweden, we have two of the most 'of the moment' jockeys riding at present."
Regarding the increase in prize-money, Smith added: "Framing races to provide quality horses, appropriate to the quality of riders we invite to ride in the event, is important, and we hope that £60,000 handicaps, in limited fields of ten, with prize-money down to last place, and no entry fees to pay, will add further appeal for owners and trainers."
Post-racing entertainment will be provided by Jessie J, while 200 complimentary tickets to the Queen Anne enclosure will be made available to racing staff.
Delivered in partnership with the National Trainers Federation (NTF), through RacingGroom.com, the offer will enable signed-up members of RacingGroom.com to apply for tickets.
Nanako heads world stars
When scoring a maiden success in the Women Jockey's World Cup at Bro Park near Stockholm last month, Nanako Fujita created an enormous media impression both inside and outside her own country.
Now 22, she has lived in the glare of the the public eye ever since making her debut and was pursued by a sizeable Japanese media contingent in 2017 when travelling to Europe for the first time, where she watched both the Derby and the Prix du Jockey Club en route to riding in an amateur competition in Sweden.
Fujita is idolised at home and has been able to match that popularity – she remains the only woman currently licensed by the JRA – with improved performances on the track, while her participation in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup could generate even more Japanese coverage of the event than in the years when Yutaka Take has ridden at Ascot.
This season she broke new ground in partnering Copano Kicking to fifth place in the February Stakes, becoming the first woman to ride in a Japanese Grade 1, while her 18 wins for the campaign have her hovering just outside the top 30 in the jockeys' standings.
Rest of the World captain Yuga Kawada enjoys a double-digit lead over Keita Tosaki and Christophe Lemaire in the race to be champion in Japan, and rode five winners in Britain during a stint with Roger Varian last summer.
Kawada is joined by Vincent Ho, who finished fourth in the Hong Kong championship, which drew to a close on Sunday. He scored on his very first start in Britain during a short spell last August when winning aboard X Rated for Mark Johnston.
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