With the Racing League geared up for a third year, igniting energy to damp weekday afternoons, a day off reaches its 22nd staging at the home of the royal meeting. We're just over half way through the flat season, and Champions Day here is two months to come. But the Shergar Cup has rolled back into Ascot, and the public have come with it in their tens of thousands. For a fourth year, the girls are busy putting G1 winning boys to sleep.
Our ambassador, on his whirlwind Farewell Tour, is reduced to rubble. Olivier Pesler, shattered. Joao 'Magic Man' Moreira, gone too. Like skittles they fall, as a three-pronged attack is initiated by Hayley Turner, out of semi-retirement to lead The Ladies. Hollie Doyle and debutant Saffie Osborne complete the attack. Two races taken by Doyle, who leaves leading rider, two by Osborne. Great Britain and Ireland depart with just 35 points (against 54 for Europe and 73 for the Rest of the World). The victors claim 78.
Which isn't, of course, to discredit valiant efforts from the gentlemen. Thore Hammer Hansen, a group winner in Germany, found success on this side of the Channel with spoils in the Mile. His mount, Perotto, saw of Fox Tail by a head, earning him Ride of the Day. And there was Japanese success in our opener, with Kazuo Yokoyama flying over to win the dash with Rogue Lightning. It was Doyle, though, who walked away with the coveted Silver Saddle, having racked most individual points.
The Shergar Cup saw its inauguration at Goodwood in 1999, when two teams of horses with owners from Europe took on owners from the Middle East. Each jockey rides in five races, meaning each team has either two or three members riding any given race: balanced over the six contests. Points are awarded to the first five home (of ten runners, all handicaps). 15 for a first, 10 for second, 7 for third, 5 for fourth, and 3 for fifth. An event, uniquely, all about the riders.