2019 Shergar Cup tips – Through the card selections and winning team tip for Ascot
Our expert takes a look through the card on Shergar Cup day at Ascot, providing punters with his tips and his selection as to which team will be lifting the trophy come the end of the afternoon.
Saturday marks a unique occasion in the world of flat racing. The Shergar Cup, unlike your usual race meeting, pitches four teams of jockeys against one another. Three top riders representing Great Britain and Ireland, Europe, the Rest Of The World and the Girls will try and earn their team points by winning and placing in the six races through the afternoon.
The team with the most points at the end of race six will lift the Shergar Cup Trophy and the jockey who has accumulated the most individual points will be awarded the Silver Saddle.
The fields have been finalised and the horses have been sorted into their respective teams. Our expert has taken a look at each race at Ascot on Saturday and provided readers with his tips for each contest and which team he fancies will be lifting the trophy after the final race.
2019 Shergar Cup Tips
1:05pm Ascot Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash (Handicap) (Class 2) 5f
Danzeno is a very classy operator, with good course form here at Ascot and it will be hard to keep Michael Appleby’s charge out of the frame. Yet, with the pace-setting Caspian Prince likely to cut out the running on his side of the track, I fancy FINAL VENTURE will come with a winning charge in Saturday’s opener.
Paul Midgley’s seven-year-old has been very unlucky this year, finishing a close second on all three of his starts. While he hasn’t managed to claim a victory of his own, Soffia – who got the better of Final Venture at the Curragh – came out and thrashed her rivals in the Group Two Sapphire Stakes and Ornate – who edged out Midgley’s charge at Beverley – ran a cracker to place behind Battaash in the King George at Goodwood.
Older horses towards the head of the weights have an excellent record in the Dash. As do those drawn high, with 2017 winner, Stake Acclaim powering to victory from the same stall 12 my selection has been placed in. Final Venture looks to have an excellent chance of handing Aussie rider, Jamie Kah victory on her first ride at the Shergar Cup.
Main Bet – FINAL VENTURE (7/1 Coral)
Next Best – DANZENO (3/1 William Hill)
1:40pm Ascot Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Stayers (Handicap) 2m
Ian Williams’ horses often run well at the Shergar Cup and Time To Study has shown a clear liking for the track here at Ascot, running really well in races like the Queen’s Vase, the Sagaro Stakes and this year’s Ascot Stakes, where Jim Crowley’s mount stayed on gamely for third. Being stuck down in stall two, however, could prove a stumbling block, so I’ll place my faith in WHAT A WELCOME, who has been handed a more favourable stall up in nine.
Back in the autumn, Patrick Chammings’ charge scored back-to-back victories here at Ascot, including a comfortable course-and-distance triumph over Never Surrender. That remains his most recent victory, but What A Welcome has run well in defeat on a couple of occasions, most notably when losing out by just a nose to Ebor favourite, King’s Advice, when both were running off level weights.
What A Welcome has now dropped back to the same mark of 98 he carried that day at Goodwood and I’m willing to ignore poor recent performances at Newmarket and Goodwood and side with Chammings’ five-year-old, as he returns to a track he clearly enjoys. Team Europe could be celebrating a winner after race two!
Main Bet – WHAT A WELCOME (7/1 Ladbrokes)
Next Best – TIME TO STUDY e/w (10/1 Coral)
2:15pm Ascot Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Challenge (Handicap) (Class 3) 1m4f
Mandarin has built up some useful momentum through the summer and should go well on his pursuit of a hat-trick. Four-year-olds have a strong recent record in this race and Big Kitten should relish the return to 12 furlongs. That being said, I’ll be praying one of the ten confirmed runners comes out, allowing first reserve HYANNA to take her chance.
Since looking extremely rusty on her reappearance on the all-weather, Eve Johnston-Houghton’s four-year-old has barely put a foot wrong. Although Hyanna has only managed to win one of her five starts, the Champs Elysses filly has run well twice in defeat at Goodwood, lost out by a neck in a cracking contest at Sandown and finished third behind two very classy opponents over course-and-distance here at Ascot.
This is a marked step down in class compared to the two races Hyanna has placed in most recently and the form of both those handicaps looks particularly strong. Hyanna has registered an RPR higher than her official rating in all of her last five outings and could be extremely well-treated with just 9-2 on her back.
Main Bet – HYANNA e/w (10/1 William Hill)
Next Best – BIG KITTEN (11/2 Coral)
2:50pm Ascot Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Mile (Handicap) (Class 2) 1m
Via Serendipity was my NAP of the meeting last year, so I was delighted to see Stuart Williams’ charge score nicely under Hayley Turner. Last year’s winner has dropped back to the same rating he carried to victory last year, so a repeat win certainly isn’t off the table. Yet, I really fancy Vincent Ho’s mount, POWER OF DARKNESS to justify his ante-post favouritism.
Marcus Tregoning’s four-year-old has only been out three times this season. Sandwiched either side of a poor run over an extended nine-furlongs are two excellent results. First, running the 99-rated Beringer close at Newmarket, before running out a convincing victor in a Molson Coors Handicap at Salisbury.
Power Of Darkness clearly didn’t get further than a mile when Tregoning experimented at Newmarket. Over a mile his results are not only excellent, but suggest Power Of Darkness is handicapper still on the upgrade. A winning Shergar Cup debut for the talented Mr. Ho is on the cards!
Main Bet – POWER OF DARKNESS (10/3 Coral)
Next Best – VIA SERENDIPITY (5/1 William Hill)
3:25pm Ascot Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Classic (Handicap) (Class 3) 1m4f
Mark Johnston has trained the third-placed horse in four of the last five editions of the Classic, but there’s a strong chance recent Ascot runner-up, Vivid Diamond could go two better on Saturday. While the favourite and Andrew Balding’s Never Do Nothing hold appeal, I’m prepared to take a chance on top-weight, BOERHAN proving his class after running in a Group Three last time out.
William Haggas’ colt ended his juvenile campaign running in the Autumn Stakes, where he managed to place fifth behind Persian King and Magna Grecia. After coming up three lengths short of Kick On during his reappearance in the Feilden Stakes, Boerhan finish fourth in a hot handicap on the all-weather at Chelmsford, before labouring over the line seventh as Spanish Mission won the Bahrain Trophy.
Despite falling to four fairly-convincing defeats, Boerhan still registered some high RPR’s and this is, by some distance, the easiest assignment he’s faced since his maiden days. Horses near the top of the weights have a decent record in the Classic and he should give Champion Jockey contender, Danny Tudhope a good spin. This could be a very good race for Great Britain and Ireland!
Main Bet – BOERHAN e/w (9/1 William Hill)
Next Best – VIVID DIAMOND (4/1 Coral)
4:00pm Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint (Handicap) (Class 2) 6f
Hero Hero made the mistake of trying to match strides with Turgenev, who had obviously set out for home too soon, in the Britannia and he could be a player dropping back to sprinting distances. A bold showing from Victory Day wouldn’t be a surprise either, but I think there’s plenty of value to be found on backing BARBILL, each-way, to build on a couple of encouraging results.
Mick Channon’s charge started his three-year-old campaign with a decent fourth behind Khaadem in the Shalaa Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury. A couple of difficult runs followed, but Barbill has shown signs of resurgence with fifth-place finishes behind Pass The Vino at Newmarket and in the Group Three Hackwood Stakes.
The top three all came from well off the pace that day but, despite sitting prominently throughout and getting bumped wide by Keystroke, Channon will have been pleased with the way his charge finished off his race. Now back in his own age group, I think there’s an excellent chance Barbill can run a strong race under Aussie rider, Mark Zahra and help the Rest Of The World end the day with a victory.
Main Bet – BARBILL e/w (14/1 Ladbrokes)
Next Best – HERO HERO (7/1 Coral)
Winning Team Verdict
Although I fancy the Girls to get off the mark in the first race, I don’t think they have enough strength through the card to retain the Shergar Cup. Vincent Ho could be a name to follow at this year’s meeting but, despite the fact I fancy him to win the Mile, I think the Rest Of The World may come up short too.
This leaves two teams battling it out for the trophy. Europe look very strong over the first three races and I’d be surprised if they didn’t open up a decent early lead. Their contenders, however, peter out a little as the card wears on, which should enable GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND (9/4 William Hill) – who have a very good chance of winning races four, five and six – to leapfrog their European rivals and win back the Shergar Cup!