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Joao v Jo: Ascot's Shergar Cup shines the spotlight on top riding talent

The Shergar Cup will feature four teams of three jockeys and is expected to attract a crowd of around 30,000 at Ascot on Saturday
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In a nutshell

Racing’s most eloquent ambassadors are frequently the jockeys and it is they who take centre stage at Ascot in the Dubai Duty Free-sponsored Shergar Cup, an annual team competition in which the stardust is sprinkled on the riding talent rather than necessarily on the handicappers that they must pilot.

In particular, the Rest of the World line-up includes the ‘Magic Man’ Joao Moreira, who dominated the Hong Kong jockeys’ ranks for five seasons and has now embarked on a mission to do the same in Japan.

Cards and betting for all six Shergar Cup races at Ascot

Brazilian-born Moreira lines up with captain Yutaka Take and Melbourne Cup winner Corey Brown, although the Rest of the World Team is not alone in boasting impressive strength.

An all-homegrown Girls team of Hayley Turner, Hollie Doyle and skipper Josephine Gordon speaks of a country in which the best of either sex are a match for all.

The far eastern connection continues at Haydock, where visiting Japanese jockey Yuga Kawada dons the famous Teruya Yoshida silks to partner Narella in the Listed Smarkets/British EBF Dick Hern Stakes.

The best race of the day is the Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakesin which connections of Albany heroine Main Edition will be hoping for a better experience on Newmarket’s July course than when their filly was wiped out in the incident that ended in Frankie Dettori serving a six-day ban.

Haydock’s main race is the Group 3 Smarkets Betting Exchange Rose of Lancaster Stakes, while there is also Group 3 and Listed action at Cork, and a Listed contest at Deauville, where James Doyle heads to ride Loxley, one of three British-trained raiders, in the Prix Nureyev.

Ryan Moore, meanwhile, will be hoping Chicago is his kind of town, with Royal Ascot winner Hunting Horn arguably the pick of his Coolmore mounts in a trio of Grade 1 turf events at Arlington Park. 

Special anniversary

The only 12-year-olds at Haydock on Saturday will be charging around the racecourse having fun. Seventy years ago a 12-year-old was also at Haydock, but he was riding in - and winning - a race.

His name was Lester Piggott and he was to become one of the most famous jockeys there has ever been.

On Saturday, Piggott once again intends to be at Haydock, where the Smarkets Lester Piggott 70th Anniversary Handicap recalls the day – August 11, 1948 – when he rode the first of his 4,493 winners in Britain on The Chase.

Lester Piggott pictured with a Willie Newton sculpture of The Chase and Palacegate Jack, the two horses whose victories at Haydock bookended his career.

Piggott’s final victory, on Palacegate Jack, also came at Haydock, 24 years ago.

The legend said: "I'm very grateful to Haydock for commemorating a minor race run so very long ago. That seller back in 1948 was to prove the start of a very long career, and I'm delighted Haydock was at the end of that career as well – the course where I rode my last winner in Britain in 1994."

Swing out sister

Georgia Cox’s last winner in Britain was on Rashdan, and she will be looking to the same horse to do the business for her in the Ladies’ Trophy at Haydock on Saturday.

Carlisle had its annual all-female riders’ card on Monday, and Haydock supplies further opportunities in this ITV4-televised £20,000 handicap sponsored by Smarkets, with Cox on one of the more fancied runners in Al Shaqab’s Rashdan, whom she partnered to win at Newcastle last month.

In between times Cox has been successful at Bro Park in Sweden – she faces not brothers but sisters here, ten of them!

Dwyer chasing Chelmsford riches 

Chelmsford must once again be congratulated for putting on a card that features races worth £50,000, £40,000 and £25,000, despite not receiving ITV4 coverage. 

The course has been rewarded with three excellent races, headlined by the Bet ToteTrifecta at Fairwood Fillies' Handicap (3.15 ATR), which hopefully will keep its current dead-eight line-up for each-way betting purposes. 

Win-only punters have been well rewarded for their support of the Chris Dwyer-trained Rock On Baileys so far this year.

The daughter of Rock Of Gibraltar ran up a four-timer in the space of a month on the all-weather earlier in the campaign and success here would complete a hat-trick, after wins over six furlongs at Chelmsford and Chester.

Chris Dwyer: Rock On Baileys has prospered for him
"It's her first try over the trip but her style of racing suggests there is a decent chance she’ll get the seven," said Dwyer. "It’s a good pot and she likes the track, so it’s definitely worth a crack. We love Chelmsford and like to support them as we’re local to them."

Rock On Baileys began her current winning sequence on June 21, having run well enough in two tries at Listed level.

Dwyer added: "She's quite a useful filly and I don’t like to give her too long between races because she tends to get above herself a little bit."

Cox faces Godolphin triple threat in Deauville

Nureyev is most famous in Britain and Ireland for his disqualification by the Newmarket stewards after the 1980 2,000 Guineas.

But Francois Boutin sent out the son of Northern Dancer to score a pair of Group 3 successes for the Niarchos family, while Nureyev's stellar breeding career accounted for Miesque, Zilzal and Peintre Celebre, to name but three of his champion progeny.

It is perhaps surprising it has taken French authorities so long to name a race after him, but the Listed Prix Nureyev (3.20) at Deauville on Saturday has attracted a line-up long on potential for its inaugural edition. 

Nureyev and Philippe Paquet on the way to post ahead of the 2,000 Guineas

Charlie Appleby saddles Zaman – who is penalised for his Listed winner at Meydan and is the mount of Tony Piccone – and Loxley, who takes a significant drop in trip after chasing home Wells Farrh Go in the Bahrain Trophy over a mile and five furlongs.

Godolphin's third candidate is the Andre Fabre-trained Cascadian, one of the stable's brightest two-year-old prospects last season, who reappears just 12 days after running on late for fifth behind Masaarr here over a mile. 

Clive Cox saddles Connect, winner of Pontefract's Silver Tankard last backend and rated joint second highest by the handicapper after his win over this ten-furlong trip at Epsom. 

"I'm very happy with Connect, who won well off top weight in a handicap on Derby day, so he's well able at this level," said Cox. 

"He appreciates a bit of ease in the ground, which he should get, and was a Listed winner at two."

Lingfield turn to Nile for Good Times

Lingfield did not keep the Faith, but they do have music after their evening meeting on Saturday.

As at Haydock on Friday night, original act Paloma Faith had to cancel the show, but the Surrey track acted quickly to line up Nile Rodgers and Chic.

A statement from a relieved Lingfield read: "Nile and the band have played some of the UK’s most exciting gigs over the last year with five-star performances, including Glastonbury, bringing in the new year on the BBC, and headlining the Wilderness Festival and Brighton Pride to record crowds just this past weekend.

"Virtually every song in the set is a UK top-ten single and includes not only the great songs that Nile co-wrote and produced for Chic but also many of the great songs he did with David Bowie, Madonna, Diana Ross, Daft Punk, Duran Duran and Sister Sledge."

Musical-themed runners on the card include La Bass (5.45), Popsicle (6.45) and Devils Roc (7.15).

Marathon session

Any punter or armchair viewer who fancies staying the distance from start to finish is in for a very long day.

The Shergar Cup is invariably an early riser, being covered from start to finish on terrestrial television, while last orders have long since been called at most pubs before the Arlington Million is off, at least in this neck of the woods.

You'll find no fewer than 71 Saturday contests on, with Ascot starting at 1.05pm and the feature at Arlington Park at 12.08am. Good luck!

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A Girls team of Hayley Turner, Hollie Doyle and skipper Josephine Gordon speaks of a country where the best of either sex are a match for all
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