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Hughes hunts Shergar glory

The ever popular Shergar Cup takes place at Ascot tomorrow as four teams, comprising of three jockeys each, do battle over a six-race card.

The competition features teams from Ireland, Great Britain, Europe and the Rest of the World and points are awarded in relation to the jockeys' finishing position.

All riders will wear their team colours and the six races are limited to 10 runners with either two or three horses racing for each team. Points are awarded on a 15, 10, seven, five and three basis to the first five horses home and, in the case of a non-runner the team will be awarded four points.

After yesterday's declarations and the random draw to allocate the jockeys, the meeting's betting partners Ladbrokes have made Europe the 7/4 favourites, with Ireland next on 2/1, Great Britain 7/2 and the Rest of the World the outsiders at 9/2.

Kieren Fallon was due to captain the Irish side, but was forced to take up other engagements elsewhere leaving man-of-the-moment Richard Hughes, fresh from the most glorious of Glorious Goodwoods, to lead the Irish team into battle.

Hughes is joined by Pat Smullen and Fran Berry who, along with Johnny Murtagh, will be battling out to be Irish Champion Jockey at the end of the season.

Hughes is the 7/2 joint favourite to claim the Silver Saddle, along with Olivier Peslier, while Hayley Turner and Christophe Soumillon are the 7/1 second favourites. Pat Smullen is 10/1 and Fran Berry a 12/1 chance.

According to the early prices released by Ladbrokes, Pat Smullen is set to partner the opening favourite which is the Jane Chapple-Hyam trained Secret Asset in the five-furlong dash, while in the fifth race over 1m4f, Richard Hughes will partner Emerging Artist for Mark Johnston, which is also set to go off favourite.

The racing itself is a card of six handicaps and while it would be nothing like the meetings of Royal Ascot or the recent King George, it is, if nothing else, highly entertaining for punters to see some of the 12 best riders in the world compete in an entertaining day's action.

Whether such a competition could be repeated here is probably unlikely, but there is surely something we could do that would catch the imagination. For now, however, we will have to watch this space -- oh, and the Shergar Cup!

Enjoy and come on Ireland!

The Teams

Great Britain: Hayley Turner, Jim Crowley and Alan Munro

Ireland: Richard Hughes, Pat Smullen and Fran Berry

Europe: Olivier Peslier (France), Umberto Rispoli (Italy), Christophe Soumillon (Belgium)

Rest of the World: Anton Marcus (South Africa), Luke Nolen (Australia) and Yasunari Iwata (Japan)

Team Betting

3Europe 7/4

3Ireland 2/1

3Great Britain 7/2

3Rest of the World 9/2

Silver Saddle (Most points scored)

3Richard Hughes, Olivier Peslier 7/2

3Hayley Turner, Christophe Soumillon 7/1

3Yasunari Iwata 8/1

3Pat Smullen 10/1

3Fran Berry 12/1

3Anton Marcus 14/1

3Umberto Rispolli 16/1

3Jim Crowley 20/1

3Luke Nolen, Alan Munro 25/1