World in union for Shergar Cup

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World in union for Shergar Cup
Some of their names may be unfamiliar to British racegoers but the jockeys who will represent the Rest of the World team in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot on Saturday are definitely not here for a tourist weekend.
The Rest of the World jockeys take on teams from Britain, Ireland and Europe over six races for the Shergar Cup and while all three jockeys have never ridden in this country before they intend to prove that, like good wine, they can travel.
The squad is led by Anton Marcus, the current South African champion jockey, who aside from winning most of the major prizes in his homeland rode the high-class Hong Kong sprinter Firebolt to win the Group Two Sha Tin Vase Handicap in 2002 and Jay Peg to win in the $5million Dubai Duty
Free on Dubai World Cup night six years later.
“This is my third visit to England but I’ve not ridden here before,” he said. “My career has been predominantly in South Africa and Hong Kong. “I’ve been back in South Africa for the last six years after four-and-a-half years riding in Hong Kong. Our style of racing definitely differs from the English style of racing. South African racing is probably similar to French racing - jump out and take a sit and then sprint, whereas here the pace is more honest.
“I’m just looking forward to the whole day at Ascot - it is an honour to be invited and I want to make the most of the day.”
Australian jockeys like Scobie Breasley, Ron Hutchinson and more recently Kerrin McEvoy have been a welcome addition to the British racing scene and Luke Nolen, recently crowned the champion jockey in Victoria, is keen to add to his experience and has proved that he can take a chance when it is offered. The 30-year-old’s career was in danger of stalling a few years ago but his fortunes changed after a chance phone call from leading trainer Peter Moody in 2003, who mistakenly booked Nolen for two winning rides thinking that he was actually recruiting Nolen’s brother Shaun but the pair soon struck up a formidable partnership which has brought many big-race successes.
“I don’t have much overseas experience which is another reason I was very keen to be involved in the Shergar Cup,” Nolen explained. “I can learn and ride a few winners hopefully. I’ve met a few of my targets in the last year and have got to reassess my career. I won a title in Victoria and had great success during the main carnivals. I now need to make some new targets.”
Nolen is clearly not a man who is easily deflected once he sets his mind to something. A terrible fall at Doomben racecourse in May 2008 left the rider unconscious with a broken palate, eye socket, cheekbone, nose and jaw and bruising to the brain but he managed to come back within three months. Asked about injuries that would have broken many men he talks about it as calmly as others might describe a visit to the dentist. “It wasn’t good but if that’s the worst thing that’s going to happen to me I’ve done pretty well,” he said. “Because I’ve had close friends who have lost a lot more and some are no longer here.
“It has been onwards and upwards ever since and hopefully this will be a very rewarding trip.”
A trip to Ascot gave the jockey a different perspective from when he had watched racing there from Australia. “I walked the course at Ascot and the camera angles don’t do it full justice,” he said. “It’s really something to walk. We have a straight six at Flemington but Ascot is very different - uphill and downhill. I’m going to have to adjust my usual style of riding but I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’m sure I’ll adapt very quickly. The style of racing in Australia is a bit cagey - we ride our horses the way they’re trained - to unleash sprints at the end of races. It seems a lot different here.”
Nolen has yet to win Australia’s most famous race, the Melbourne Cup, but one of his new teammates can tell him all about it. Yasunari Iwata is third member of the Rest of the World team and the 36-year-old Japanese jockey is also experiencing European racing for the first time but has had plenty of involvement in jockey competitions at home and in Hong Kong.
Speaking through an interpreter he said: “I’m looking forward very much to riding at Ascot. I follow racing In England and think Ascot looks a tough course, with horses needing a lot of power and stamina. The motivation for doing well as a jockey has been Yutaka Take - he has been the inspiration to my career.”
One of the big moments for Iwata came in 2006 when he rode Delta Blues (pictured right) to victory in the Melbourne Cup. “I felt like a complete hero,” he said. “It was absolutely amazing.”
Iwata may need help with the interviews but winning is an international language and all three have proved that they know where the winning post is.



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