Dubai: The changes to this year’s Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup might not be drastic enough to open up the men versus women debate in sport, but the introduction of an all-ladies’ team to the annual jockeys’ competition is sure to add some spark.
Hayley Turner, Chantal Sutherland and Emma-Jayne Wilson will make history at August’s team event, which returns to Ascot racecouse when they ride against three male teams representing Great Britain and Ireland, Europe and the Rest of the World.
Turner, Britain’s top female jockey, has been taking part in the event, due to take place on August 11, since 2006, and even captained the Great Britain team from 2008-2010.
Sutherland is a Canadian model, television personality and jockey in North America, while Wilson was the first female jockey to compete in the Shergar Cup in 2006 when she rode for the rest-of-the-world team.
Together they make a crack team which has the experience and talent to trouble their male counterparts in the unique points-based competition.
Nick Smith, head of communications for Ascot, said: “This promises to be the most exciting Shergar Cup in the event’s history, with the first all-female team and more international jockeys taking part than ever before, some legends in their own countries and some who are rapidly rising young stars.
“The Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup has regularly reinvented itself and we thought that the time was right to break new ground by seeing how three of the most successful female riders of all time can fare against three teams made up of some of world’s top male jockeys.”
Turner, who is delighted to be part of the new team, said: “The three of us rode against each other in the Pimlico Female Jockey Challenge in the USA last year, and I told Ascot straight afterwards that, if there was ever an all girls’ team at the Shergar Cup, we’d definitely be keen to take part.
“I’m thrilled that it’s going ahead and, having been with Chantal in Dubai last week, I can tell you that we’re both really up for putting one over on the boys!”
Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, said: “The international aspect is one of the most attractive elements of the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup to us as a global brand.
“We are thrilled to be helping to create an opportunity for racegoers in the UK to see so many of horse racing’s top international stars in action at one of the world’s most famous sporting venues.”
The format of the event remains unchanged, with the four teams of three jockeys taking part across six races, each with ten runners.
Every jockey has five rides and points are awarded on a 15-10-7-5-3 basis to the first five jockeys to finish in each race.
The team with the highest total after the sixth race lifts the Shergar Cup and the jockey with the highest individual score claims the Silver Saddle trophy.
American Aaron Gryder will make his debut along with promising Hong Kong jockey Matthew Cadwick and Japanese legend Yutaka Take.
Gryder, who is best known for winning the Dubai World Cup with Well Armed in 2009, has not ridden in Britain since 1992.
German great Andreas Suborics will ride for the European team together with Frankie Dettori should he be available.
The line-up for the Great Britain and Ireland male team will be announced closer to the event.