Five international jockeys plus Hayley Turner, the UK's most successful female jockey of all-time, gave their thoughts ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup as Ascot this Saturday, August 12. A media event was staged by Ascot Racecourse at London's racing pub, the Sydney Arms in Chelsea.
The Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup is the world's premier jockeys' competition, a unique event where three top riders in each of four teams - Great Britain & Ireland, Europe, Rest of the World and The Girls - battle against each other in a thrilling six-race showdown.
The Girls team is united and ready to do battle again against the three other teams - Rest of the World, Europe & Great Britain and Ireland, at Ascot's unique Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup on Saturday, August 12.
A newcomer to the competition, Australia's Michelle Payne, joins Hayley Turner and Emma-Jayne Wilson, the most successful female riders ever in Britain and Canada respectively.
Michelle Payne at Royal Ascot, photo Liesl King
Payne, made famous internationally by her 100/1 victory on Pride Of Penzance in the 2015 Melbourne Cup, the race that stops a nation, was due to ride in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup last year but missed out because of injury.
Her previous visits to Britain include a spell riding out and competing in races in 2009 when she was based in Newmarket and met Turner then. She returned more recently to partner Kaspersky in the G1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, finishing an excellent fifth on the 66/1 chance.
Kaspersky will be challenging for honours at the Spring Carnival in Australia later this year and then be trained by Payne at her Nottingham Farm Stables.
Payne, who now combines training racehorses as well as riding them, said today: "It is nice to come to Britain again. I was out here eight years ago, riding in races and trackwork, and came for two weeks around Royal Ascot this year.
"Riding at Royal Ascot was incredible, very prestigious, and I cannot describe the feeling of how special it was to be out there competing. It was really a great day.
"We expected Kaspersky to run well - he is a top-class galloper. I plan to ride him on the Saturday after the Shergar Cup at Newbury and then the aim will be to come out for the Spring Carnival this year.
"We are hoping that he will run in the Cox Plate and the race is second to the Melbourne Cup that everyone wants to win in Australia. Fingers crossed, he will make it there in good order. He will be my first ride in the Cox Plate.
"After the Spring Carnival, I intend taking him to my farm and training him from that day onwards. I have 22 horses at my farm and half of them are in training. I have some really nice horses coming through, some who have just turned two, and that will be a lot of fun to see how they turn out.
"Training, as well as riding, is something I have been aiming at for the last seven or eight years so I am doing what I love.
"I am going to stay small as a trainer and have a capacity of 16 horses in training at one time. I really want to enjoy it and have a good quality stable.
"I am riding the majority of the horses I race. But I am surprised how much of a buzz I get out of just watching those race as opposed to riding them as well. A lot of effort, time and money has gone into the training venture.
"I am just loving riding my own horses - you get to know them so well. I would ride for a lot longer if I could, due to the amount of bad falls I have had, there has to be a time when I hang up the silks.
"Training is a good career to go into that still has a challenge and makes me want to get up in the mornings. I have fractured 13 vertebrae in falls and I don't want to push my luck too much. I will stop race riding in the next year or so - probably no longer than the end of next year.
"I could come back to the Shergar Cup next year - that is probably why I am keeping my options open!"
The jockey has been anticipating the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup for a long time.
"I was so excited about the Shergar Cup last year and really gearing up to come to Ascot when my life shuddered to a sudden halt with a bad fall. But it is great to be out here this year and being able to compete.
"I am looking forward to the whole package on the day. It looks such a fun day - a really young crowd, a fair and teams of jockeys from all around the world.
"It is such a great concept and having a girls' team is fantastic. I am really proud to be in The Girls team.
"I have been in a jockeys' contest in Mauritius but that was different and I represented myself. I think it is fun to be a team player - hoping for each other to do well and come out on top.
"I have met Hayley before but not Emma-Jayne. We will have a lot of fun on Saturday. "
Famous all over Australia, she is now being recognised in Europe.
"After Royal Ascot, my friend and I were travelling around France and a taxi driver in Nice talked about the movie they are making of me. It is funny, you cannot go anywhere without being recognised.
"It is amazing how one race can really change your life! You could not imagine how it has changed my life.
"I read the script for the movie which I thought was fantastic but they are the experts and I am happy to leave it to them.
"It will be surreal to watch the movie - but I am really excited about it now because I love movies about inspiration where people have to go through tough times and tragedy and then they succeed.
"Hopefully, I am going to enjoy the movie and a lot of other people will as well."
Turner is not anticipating a film being made about her life just yet, but tentatively suggested that Jennifer Aniston in her role.
She laughed: "That maybe is punching above my weight a little bit!"
She is riding at her 11th Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup on Saturday - a new record as Frankie Dettori has only taken part in 10.
"That's nice - to beat Frankie at something - it doesn't happen very often!
"I am so excited to be riding at the Shergar Cup again. It is just good fun every year, with or without a winner - banter and everybody is a lot more chilled out. It is something a little bit different - everything gets bit repetitive otherwise.
"This is a team event so I can blame Emma-Jayne if anything goes wrong or we don't win! No, she is a very good captain - she keeps me in my place."
The Girls won for the first time in 2015, with Wilson and Turner in the team.
"It was just amazing - we had been close the year before and I don't think we realised at the time what a big deal it was for The Girls to win. It made the non-racing audience pay attention as well.
"I am trying to do as much riding as possible at the moment because I don't want to go to France all wishy-washy."
Turner is moving to take advantage of the two kilo allowance in France for female jockeys and has her first ride sine the recent announcement at Deauville on Sunday.
She explained: "It is all going on. It is such a good opportunity for any girl riding at the moment to be able to get 4.4lb off a horse's back.
"I don't know exactly where I am going or where I am staying at the moment. I am going to wing it. I have my first ride on Wyck Hall at Deauville on Sunday - she won last time out. It is a nice meeting to start off at.
"I need to learn to speak the language - we had French lessons at school (Southwell Minster) but I did not really pay much attention - I wish I had now! I cannot remember my French teacher, but I got away with murder in those lessons!
"The Shergar Cup will warm me up nicely the day before - the owners enjoy the day too and maybe there should be more events like it.
"I don't have any expectations for Saturday - it is my 11th Shergar Cup and the present format with four teams is the best. I got to know Michelle when she was over in the UK for the first time - a sound girl.
"It would be great if we could win the Shergar Cup with her on our team. I am only on Chapter Two of my life and will have to wait a bit longer for the film of my life to come out!"
Wilson is going for her sixth Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup and she captains the team again. However, it was not as easy a decision as usual to accept Ascot's invitation this time.
She explained: "My year since last year's Shergar Cup has been great. From a personal point of view, a lot has happened. I got married, and my wife and I welcomed identical twin girls in February. Very exciting and a learning curve.
"The year at Woodbine has been a little bit slower to start than in previous years. I looking for success here and hopefully it will translate to more success at home.
"My ambitions are to ride fast horses and provide for my family. I hesitated a little longer than usual about whether to participate again - I had to discuss it both with my agent and my wife, but it was never in doubt that I wanted to come."
She has partnered three winners at the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup but wants more.
"I am excited as always - it is a very unique event and a lot of fun. It is usually very competitive and a nail-biter. So you can cheer to the end.
"I know Hayley but only have just met Michelle. I did correspond a little last year when she was supposed to be a team member but unfortunately was injured.
"I am sure she will represent well - she has done well in Australia and we have a powerful team yet again.
"Just before racing, I am going to tell my team mates to have fun. That is what the Shergar Cup really is - a lot of fun. It would be a big disappointment if all the jockeys competing and the fans did not have fun."
Kerrin McEvoy is looking forward to captaining the Rest Of The World Team ahead of his second appearance at the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup. The former Godolphin rider is joined by current South African champion Anthony Delpech and Keita Tosaki, who has been the Japan Racing Association's top rider for the last three years.
The Rest Of The World Team finished a close third on McEvoy's Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup debut in 2015, with McEvoy taking the opening Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint on Secretinthepark.
McEvoy said: "I have been a keen follower of the Shergar Cup since my days riding in England back in the day. It was pleasing to get invited again because it is a fantastic event and you can never knock back the chance to have a few spins around Ascot.
"My first Shergar Cup was a great experience. I think I won the first race of the day on a sprinter for Robert Cowell and our team was leading until the last race when The Girls knocked us off.
"I have got a good team of riders on my side this year. There is some good prize money on offer, so everyone is going out there to try and get amongst it and do their best for the team.
"I have ridden with Anthony Delpech before back in Hong Kong in 2004. He is a star rider and had a great deal of success in Hong Kong, and has been in South Africa riding well for a number of years now.
"The main advice I would be giving to Anthony and Keita is to be patient. Ascot is a stiff old track whether that be on the round or the straight course.
"I enjoy riding at Ascot. It is one of the best tracks in the world and I have some very fond memories there from over many years. Hopefully, we can put on a good show on Saturday."
McEvoy, who will be competing against sister-in-law Michelle Payne, lifted his second Melbourne Cup in November on Almandin, 16 years on from his first success in the race as a fresh faced 20-year-old on Brew in 2000.
McEvoy continued: "Myself and Michelle have ridden against each other many times in the past but not so much the last 10 months or so.
"It is going to be a good personal battle between ourselves, that's for sure. We have won the last two Melbourne Cups between us so I think this is the decider!
"I think the second Melbourne Cup was even sweeter than the first one to be honest. The race is getting harder and harder every year to win and I was very pleased to get another one.
"I have had a good run of luck back home and have been pleased with how things are going. The new season has started, so hopefully I can have a good trip away and then get straight back into when I get back.
"I have got two nice fillies to look forward to for Chris Waller in Egg Tart and Foxplay. I have won some nice races on both and they should be able to hold their own in good company."
Japan's Keita Tosaki, a debutant in the premier jockeys' competition, is enjoying a great season back home as he is closes in on a fourth consecutive JRA Champion Jockey title.
Tosaki, 37, said today: "This is my first visit to the UK. I had a comfortable flight over from Japan.
"I have seen racing from Ascot on television before. Compared to the racing back home, the pace in races is a bit slower and the races look to ride a bit tighter. I have also heard the ground usually rides softer than we would usually have in Japan.
"I have spoken to other jockeys from Japan who have ridden at Ascot and they say it is a beautiful track to ride, although it is maybe a bit more undulating than anything we have back home.
"I am really looking forward to riding at Ascot on Saturday, it is a really great honour to be riding there. I want to do the best I can, both for the Rest Of The World Team and on a personal level.
"My career in Japan is going really well and I feel really blessed to have the people that I have around me. It is thanks to all the support that I have done as well as I have. I first become aware of racing because of my neighbours when I was growing up. They suggested to me that I would be suitable for a career as a jockey, due to my small frame.
"My wife and children have travelled over to Britain with me and will be coming along to Ascot on Saturday while there will be lots of people watching the action back home."
Also making his UK debut on Saturday is Anthony Delpech, born in Mauritius but based in South Africa. The 48-year-old has extensive riding experience all over the globe, having been based in Hong Kong from 2003 to 2008.
Delpech commented: "I had a good trip over. I have been to the UK before on holiday but this will be my first time riding over here.
"I watch Ascot on the television back home and a lot of the British racing. The style of riding is different to back home - our races tend to be run slower before finishing with a sprint whereas you guys would kick on at lot earlier than we would. I think I may have to get on the treadmill to make sure I am fit enough to ride on Saturday as I don't usually have to work that hard at home!
"One thing I am not worried out how the ground will ride on Saturday, as we do sometimes get soft ground in South Africa and I am used to it.
"We have a very similar event to the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup in South Africa, which I have ridden in for the past 10 years. It is something a bit different and good for the crowd I think, particularly when you are riding against jockeys from all over the world.
"Obviously you always want to win, but it is not an event that is so serious. For me, it is about good fun and putting on a good show for the crowd.
"I think events such as the Shergar Cup can help to bring new audiences to racing. It is about the only place where you can see jockeys from all over the world - America, Australia, Europe and Japan - with all their different riding styles."
Talking about his career in South Africa, Delpech continued: "We race seven days a week back home. This year I was chasing the title, which I won, and was riding five or six days a week, usually with up to eight rides a day.
"I have had a very good season in South Africa, winning the title. The last time I won the title was 13 years ago and this is my third title overall. It wasn't actually my intention to go for another title but found myself in a position where I was able to win it again.
"I am still enjoying riding as much as ever. I don't know anything yet about the horses I am going to be riding on Saturday. I will look at the form and hopefully can pick up some pieces of advice."
Team Betting - Winning Post odds
Great Britain & Ireland 11/8
Rest Of The World 2/1
The Girls 7/2
Alistair Haggis Silver Saddle - Winning Post odds
Jamie Spencer 4/1
Neil Callan 5/1
Adrie De Vries 11/2
Fran Berry 7/1
Kerrin McEvoy 7/1
Anthony Delpech 8/1
Emma-Jayne Wilson 8/1
Umberto Rispoli 9/1
Keita Tosaki 12/1
Hayley Turner 16/1
Michelle Payne 16/1
Alexander Pietch 20/1