HAYLEY Turner stole the show at the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup for the second year in succession as two winners and a second helped her defend her title as the leading rider at the popular meeting.
A year ago the multiple Group 1-winning jockey led the Girls Team to win the Shergar Cup itself and beat Brazilian ace Joao Moreira by one point to claim the Alistair Haggis Silver Saddle.
Twelve months on, the Girls had to settle for minor honours in the overall competition as the Rest Of The World Team emerged triumphant with 86 points, ahead of Team Europe and the Girls on 63 and Great Britain and Ireland on 28.
However, Turner still managed to become the first jockey in Shergar Cup history to claim the Silver Saddle in successive years, this time scoring 40 points, five clear of Australian Mark Zahra on 35.
“I can’t believe it. I’d been trying to win the Silver Saddle for 12 years until last year,” the jockey told Sky Sports Racing.
“Alistair Haggis was the one who created this whole event and got the girls involved. He’s not with us now, which is really sad, and it’s nice to win it for him as this meeting really did give me a leg up in my career.”
Turner called time on her riding career in 2015, only to return to the saddle last year.
She added: “I needed a break and I don’t regret it (retiring), but I am certainly glad that I decided to come back.”
Turner’s first winner of the afternoon came aboard John Best’s Eddystone Rock, who was a clear-cut winner of the Shergar Cup Stayers.
The 13/2 chance turned for home still full of running and after being given his head by Turner, he readily kicked two and a quarter lengths clear of Theglasgowwarrior under Zahra.
Turner, making her 13th Shergar Cup appearance, said afterwards: “I just love it (the Shergar Cup). It’s such a fun day and obviously it’s nice when you’re riding winners as well. I’m buzzing.”
Turner went on to complete a double aboard Mark Johnston’s 4/1 favourite Sapa Inca in the Shergar Cup Classic and finished second on Pass The Vino in the concluding Shergar Cup Sprint.
Eventual runner-up Zahra enjoyed his moment in the spotlight aboard the James Given-trained Indianapolis in the Shergar Cup Challenge.
Formerly trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, the four-year-old has run some solid races in defeat for his new connections this year, most recently finishing fourth in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock.
Zahra’s fellow Rest Of The World Team member Vincent Ho looked to have got his fractions spot-on aboard last year’s winner Genetics in front, but 7/1 shot Indianapolis finished with a flourish to get up in the shadows of the post and deny the Hong Kong-based rider by half a length.
“It’s a great feeling. I’ve wanted to do it for a long time,” said Zahra.
Ho soon delighted favourite backers aboard Power Of Darkness in the Shergar Cup Mile. Having claimed a third career win on his latest appearance at Salisbury in June, Marcus Tregoning’s charge was the 11/4 market leader to follow up and powered home to beat Zhui Feng with something to spare.
Ho said: “It is like a dream come true. I never even imagined myself riding at Ascot, and to get a chance here and then have a winner is a dream.
“It is just amazing to be at the Shergar Cup because the atmosphere is great and you are racing against some of the top jockeys in the world. We will see what the people in Hong Kong make of it, but hopefully my parents are happy.”
Andrew Balding’s Stone Of Destiny lunged late to claim a narrow victory in a thrilling Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash, with four-times German champion jockey Filip Minarik the successful pilot.
He said: “That feels like winning the King George! It’s my first time in England and a winner at Ascot – it’s a dream come true. What more could you want?”
The Great Britain and Ireland Team ended the day with a winner as Jamie Spencer produced the William Haggas-trained Victory Day (7/4 favourite) to secure a last-gasp victory in the Sprint.
Spencer said: “He looks to be a group horse in a handicap and he did that very well. I rode him like the best horse today. We didn’t go that fast and they drifted towards the middle of the rail and given my draw in stall 12, I was able to go down the fence and run on strongly.
“It is nice to get a winner at the Shergar Cup after a tough day for the Great Britain & Ireland team.”
The only downside for racegoers at the meeting was the cancellation of the popular concert after the action on the track had finished.
Jessie J was due to be among the acts performing, but adverse weather conditions forced officials to cancel the gig with Ascot offering a 50% refund on admission fees.