Fran Berry's racing blog: The top jockey looks forward to his Shergar Cup rides

Check out Fran Berry's latest blog ahead of the forthcoming action
Check out Fran Berry's latest blog ahead of the forthcoming action

Our columnist has a strong book of rides at the Shergar Cup as he looks to lead the Great Britain and Ireland team to victory.

I’m very fortunate to be riding in the Shergar Cup for the fourth time on Saturday. It’s a great occasion and a wonderful atmosphere with a 30,000 sell-out crowd at Ascot.

It’s something different, six 11 or 12 runner handicaps with the weights compressed. It makes for very competitive racing, with a host of jockeys making rare appearances in Britain.

I know Yutake Take very well from my winter stints in Japan but haven’t seen him for a couple of years. It will be great to catch up. He’s a fantastic rider, a great stylist and has some of the best hands I’ve ever seen on a rider when it comes to settling horses.

Jockey Yutake Take
Yutake Take - among the star names at the Shergar Cup

Joao Moriera has moved to Japan after a wonderful stint in Hong Kong and is a top jockey. I’ve ridden against Andrasch Starke a lot in Germany – and Japan – and he’s a very good jockey and it will be fascinating to see Per-Anders Graberg in action for the first time. He has a very tall reputation.

I’ve somehow been nominated as captain of the Great Britain and Ireland team and it will be fun telling Pat Cosgrave and Adam Kirby what to do! To be fair it’s a great line-up, they are two fantastic riders and I’m very friendly with both. We get on well and always have a bit of banter on a normal day in the weighing room. That won’t change on Saturday.


Shergar Cup rides

Well I’m pleased to have drawn Gracious John in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash as he’s a horse I know very well. He's had a very good time of it over the last year and didn’t run at all badly in a handicap here on King George day. He’s capable of a bold show.

Lord George is a nice ride to pick up in the Stayers. He’s possibly better on the polytrack than the turf having been beaten a nose by French raider Funny Kid in the Marathon on All-Weather Finals Day. If he can transfer that form to grass here he’d have a big chance and he’s gone well at Ascot before so could be capable of it.

I’m on Machine Learner in the Challenge and he’s a horse I know well. I’ve ridden him at home and was aboard him on his reappearance here in May. He needed the run that day and the Joe Tuite team are absolutely flying now which is great. He’s up five pounds for winning at the track last time but did it with some authority and he’s a hold up horse so the wide draw doesn’t worry me. He must have a great chance.

Fran celebrates Ireland's success in the 2010 Shergar Cup
Fran celebrates Ireland's success in the 2010 Shergar Cup

I ride Across Dubai for William Haggas in the Mile. He’s a lightly-raced four-year-old who ran in the John Smith’s Cup at York last time. He didn’t make much impact there but dropping back in trip here might suit. It’s a stiff mile on the round course and I hope it helps him bounce back.

Shaheen is turned out under a three-pound penalty for the Sprint having won at Windsor five days ago. He did well to win there having been stuck behind a wall of horses and picked up well to get up on the line. He’s won three this term and will go up more than his penalty for that last performance so I have to be very hopeful.

It’s a smashing book of rides to look forward to.

All smiles as Fran Berry wins at the Shergar Cup on Great Hall
All smiles as Fran Berry wins at the Shergar Cup on Great Hall last year

Before moving onto my Sunday rides I do want to mention Danceteria in the BBAG-sales.de Handicap at Newmarket. I’ve ridden him to win his last three starts and he’s a lovely, progressive colt. He handles this track well and getting weight from the older horses, must go well again for Jason Watson, who is the young jockey of the moment.


Windsor Sunday

Antonia Clara is my first Sunday ride in the Go Jump In Fillies' Novice Auction Stakes. She’s improved with racing and was touched off at Nottingham last time in a similar race. She has a nice draw in one and has experience on her side which is always useful in races like this.

I rode Restless Rose for the first time at Newmarket last month and she was touched off in a three-way photo finish. She’s only gone up one pound for that and drops in class for the Ossie & Hutch Memorial Fillies' Handicap. She’s lightly raced and I feel there’s more to come from her. I’d be very hopeful she can go one better.

Balgowlah is only rated 57 and has top weight in the Bateaux Windsor's Restaurant Cruise Experiences Handicap. He wasn’t beaten far at Wolverhampton last time when stepped up in trip and hopefully he’s capable of going well in this grade.

My final ride is One Flew Over for Ian Williams in division two of the same race. He hasn't had much racing and ran his best race to date when fourth at Epsom last time. I think the forecast rain will suit him and he looks another potential improver for his trainer.

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