Organisers of the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup feel they have pulled off quite a coup by securing the services of Danny Tudhope and Nanako Fujita for this year’s event.
It will be a first appearance at the meeting for both 33-year-old Tudhope, who currently sits second in the Flat jockeys’ championship, and Japanese star Fujita, winner of this year’s Women Jockeys’ World Cup at Bro Park in Sweden.
Riding at the Berkshire track may be a new experience for Fujita, but Tudhope will be looking to replicate some of the magic that saw him secure four winners at this year’s Royal meeting, which included Group One glory aboard Lord Glitters in the Queen Anne Stakes.
Nick Smith, director of communications and racing at Ascot, said: “I think the Shergar Cup has always been about trying to capture the now and the moment, and we have two key people in that respect in Danny Tudhope and Nanako Fujita.
“Both riders have been very much in the news with what they have been doing on the track and it is great to have them on board.
“I’m very happy with the teams we have got as we have some new names there and some familiar ones. It is like building a cricket team, you want a mixture of experience and new blood and I think we have done that.”
With competition stalwart Hayley Turner, who lifted the Silver Saddle prize for the leading rider when helping the Girls team win the competition last year, joining forces with Fujita and Austrlian rider Jamie Kah, it would come as no surprise to Smith should they triumph again.
Smith added: “The girls team over the last couple of years has been very strong and they have a good team again with Jamie Kah joining Hayley and Nanako.
“It is worth remembering that when the event introduced the female team, there was genuine concern that it would be the same team every year as there would not be enough strength in depth.
“It has, in fact, gone the complete opposite way and you could have almost have an Australian ladies’ team.”
A crowd of more than 20,000 is expected to flock through the turnstiles at the Berkshire track on Saturday and though the meeting might not carry the same prestige as some in the calendar, Smith feels the fixture comes at a good time.
He said: “It is something a bit different and it gives a bit of variety and change of focus from the intense meetings at Goodwood and the one to come at York, with the team concept and giving people the chance to see jockeys they wouldn’t normally see.
“Although the jockeys will be taking the races seriously, a meeting like this on a quiet weekend on the calendar gives riders the chance to let their hair down a bit.
“At the end of the day it might not be for everyone, but it certainly lends itself to the calendar.”