Ascot ready for stars to put on a show

Dettori and Spencer share bill with 1980s singers on Shergar Cup day

THERE'S a big music concert taking place at Ascot this evening but they've managed to squeeze in a bit of racing as well so something called the Shergar Cup will be on stage first as the support act.

If that sounds like putting the cart before the horse, officials at the Royal course clearly don't agree as they've deliberately marketed the meeting as a 1980s music day… with the action on the track relegated to second billing.

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Exactly what jockeys of the calibre of Frankie Dettori, Jamie Spencer, Yutaka Take or Russell Baze, to name but a few, feel about performing as warm-up for the likes of Kid Creole, not forgetting his Coconuts of course, Toyah, T'Pau and Bananarama is anyone's guess. Business is business, however, and Ascot expect a crowd of 30,000 which would be more than watched Duke Of Marmalade land the King George last month.

From a money-making point of view it's as simple as ABC – and yes, they'll also be putting in an appearance.

The Shergar Cup hasn't been short of critics since its inception but this afternoon's renewal can justifiably claim a world first when the aforementioned Baze and Jorge Ricardo go head-to-head for the first time ever.

They've both ridden more than 10,000 winners apiece but have never competed against each other, and perhaps even more surprisingly, Baze has never ridden on a right-handed track.

How he'll fare going clockwise, we'll have to wait and see, but the format of the competition, in which jockeys are allocated their mounts by ballot, hasn't been particularly kind to either. None of the rides they've been paired with look hugely appealing so as beating the bookies is always the name of the game, better to look elsewhere for winners.

The draw has been much kinder to Richard Hughes and he can notch up a couple of victories for the Irish aboard Enjoy The Moment and Gold Sovereign.

Under normal circumstances, the Godolphin-owned latter would have been partnered by Frankie Dettori but instead, the Italian, sorry, Brit, will get the leg up on Cape Hawk who is normally the mount of Hughes. It's the sort of day when convention tends to go out the window! Hayley Turner, who'll captain team GB, can lead by example and get her side off to a successful start in the opener thanks to the much improved sprinter Crimson Fern while Kaldoun Kingdom and Seb Saunders should be hard to beat if the ground is considered soft enough for Richard Fahey's colt to take his chance. Of the visiting contingent, Turkish champion Halis Karatas looks to hold the best chance of success via All The Good who was considered possible nap material until the Haydock-bound Prince Forever went on to usurp his claim.

It's Ladies Night at Ayr where Hawkit will again carry our cash despite letting us down at Hamilton last time out.

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Peter Monteith's gelding should appreciate the softer ground at the Craigie venue which has been the scene of three of his seven career successes.

Kevin Ryan's youngster Jobe will have to win a few races to recoup his $410,000 purchase price and as long as he's learned from the experience gained over course and distance last month, the maiden stakes should be the first of them.

Jim Goldie's Darfour has been expensive to follow of late but could come good in the mile handicap with Cheshire Rose, who hasn't scored since her debut as a juvenile, another fancied to regain the winning thread in the last.

After that, there's just enough time to get home and watch the Arlington Million from Chicago on the box.

Who says there's too much racing?