Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 19 November 2017

Berry seals Irish hat-trick

Tom Peacock

Winners from Fran Berry and Colm O'Donoghue inspired Ireland to a late comeback in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot.

The team jockey competition has now been secured by the Irish for the last three years, but they had to wait until the last race to pass Great Britain and the Rest of the World.

Only captain Richard Hughes failed to make the scoresheet, with the decisive moment coming in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint when Berry and Morache Music (6/1) led home O'Donoghue and Desert Law. This meant Ireland finished on 70 points, Britain on 63, the Rest of the World on 57 and Europe on 50.

Paul Hanagan's third place on Firebeam, added to a winner in the opening race, allowed the British captain to win the Silver Saddle as the top rider.

"That was a good way to end the day," said Berry. "I think Richard was fifth and Colm was second so when we were pulling up we were doing our sums and we thought we'd got it. I had a great day here last year and I'd like to thank Ascot for the opportunity to come back. If we could work it out we'd love to do something similar in Ireland as it seems a great way to get new people into racing."

With cheerleaders and plenty of razzmatazz, the Shergar Cup attracts some derision from within the sport, but a young-looking crowd of over 30,000 had made their way to Ascot so Berry's instincts appeared to be correct.

Ireland's other winner came from Parlour Games (15/2) in the Titanic Belfast Shergar Cup Classic and it was slightly ironic O'Donoghue's mount came for Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni, as he usually rides for the team's great rival Aidan O'Brien. The chestnut was improving on his earlier form this season as he was driven three-quarters of a length clear of the 4/1 favourite Ithoughtitwasover.

"There are great jockeys from around the world competing today and it's really nice to be part of it," said O'Donoghue. "I spoke to Frankie Dettori about the horse this morning and his advice worked well."

Hanagan had made a flying start on his competition debut, helping Godolphin's Sarrsar (6/1) skip three and a half lengths clear in the Les Ambassadeurs Casino Shergar Cup Mile.

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