As the world’s finest jockeys converge on Ascot, and a string of ‘80s acts perform after racing, we look back at last year’s racing action and this year’s concert.
The Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup attracts the cream of world riding talent to Ascot, as well as a string of pop legends from the 1980s. The competition on the track comprises of four teams; Great Britain, Ireland, Europe and the Rest of the World. Each team has three jockeys with points awarded on a 15-10-7-5-3 basis for the first five home. Rivalry is fierce, not only are the jockeys riding for the team award, the coveted Shergar Cup, but also the Silver Saddle presented to the best individual rider of the day. In 2009, it was all about one man; Richard Hughes. Richard enjoyed an outstanding afternoon's work as a 377-1 treble sealed the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup for himself and his Irish teammates.
It didn’t quite compare with his hat-trick on the first day of Royal Ascot aboard Paco Boy, Canford Cliffs and Judgethemoment, but it was enough to claim the Silver Saddle - a prize he first took back in 2002.While Indian rider Malesh Narredu and the Japanese Hiroyuki Uchida had never even seen the Berkshire course, Hughes knows virtually every blade of grass and waltzed to victory thanks to Polly's Mark, We'll Come and Press The Button. 'I'm very proud - in 2008 we were terrible!' said Hughes. 'I was lucky to have some good rides - if you're not in the hustle you won't win anything’.
Hughes shone particularly brightly on the giant We'll Come, poking up the far rail to bolt four and a half lengths clear in the Les Ambassadeurs Club Shergar Cup Mile Handicap. Hughes wrapped up the competition on Push The Button in the Michael Page International Shergar Cup Challenge before Callan added another Irish success as he delivered Aaim to Prosper late in the Sodexo Prestige Shergar Cup Stayers to pick off the 7-2 favourite Yes Mr President inside the final 100 yards.
Ireland ended the day with an incredible 101 points from the overall placings from Hughes, Seamie Heffernan and Neil Callan, while Hayley Turner's Great Britain team were runners-up on 56 points. Individually, Turner and the Swede Fredrik Johansson tied for second place on 30 points each; 19 behind Hughes.
Johansson teamed up with Nick Littmoden's chestnut Group Therapy in the opening Barclays Shergar Cup Dash, while the final word went to Turner, who had been stuck in traffic and had to sprint through the Parade Ring barefoot to make her first ride. She closed the meeting by scoring on Tom Dascombe's Noverre To Go in the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint, in which Uchida was hit with a nine-day ban for excessive use of the whip on third-placed Able Master. 'It took me about three hours to get here, and I missed all the introductions, but it's such a good day and everyone always has a wonderful time,' said Turner before bopping away to the likes of Rick Astley, Curiosity Killed The Cat and Bucks Fizz in the Old Paddock.
As long as Hayley Turner stays injury-free, you may just see her don her leggings and mullet wig boogying down to this year’s line up of Boy George, The Christians, Belinda Carlisle, Johnny Hates Jazz, Midge Ure, China Crisis and Captain Sensible.
Back in 1983, I remember my excitement when I bought the original Now That’s What I Call Music LP. How I wish I’d kept it as the original version fetches a few quid on ebay these days. Wedged between Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart and Men Without Hats’ Safety Dance on the track list was UK number 1 Karma Chameleon by Culture Club fronted by the inimitable Boy George. Culture Club also had hits with Do You Really Want To Hurt Me - also a chart topper - and I’ll Tumble 4 Ya.
Another classic track from the era was Harvest For The World by The Christians, which reached number 8 in the UK in 1988 - a travesty it did not go higher. The band was one of a number of soul-influenced groups in the 1980s that had strong links to UK punk rock, New Wave music and post-punk. The band's frontman and lead singer Garry Christian became the group’s unique selling point with his distinctive look and velvet-smooth soulful tones. In Rock: The Rough Guide, music critic Charles Bottomley, described the band as ‘The Temptations in ripped jeans, producing gritty-centered songs in a sugary vocal shell’.
Belinda Carlisle makes a welcome return to the ‘80s Day line up having wowed the crowd in 2008. Once of the Go-Gos, Belinda Carlise launched her solo career in 1996. She didn’t have to wait long for a number one, when the next year Heaven Is A Place On Earth reached number 1 in the UK and seven other countries, including the US. Belinda went on a have a further five top ten hits, including Leave A Light On in 1989 and (We Want) The Same Thing one year later.
In April 1987, Johnny Hates Jazz vaulted to international success following the release of their first hit single Shattered Dreams. The group consists of singer-songwriter Clark Datchler, Calvin Hayes and Mike Nocito. Here’s a fact for you should the conversation dry up on the journey home - the band’s tongue-in-cheek name referenced Nocito’s brother-in-law Johnny, who really did hate jazz!
James ‘Midge’ Ure, OBE is a guitarist, singer, keyboard player and songwriter from north of the border. He enjoyed particular success in the 1970s and 1980s in bands including Slik, Thin Lizzy, The Rich Kids, Visage, and most notably as frontman of Ultravox. Midge co-wrote and produced the charity single Do They Know It's Christmas? and co-organised Band Aid, Live Aid and Live 8 with Bob Geldof. He twice received an Ivor Novello Award with Geldof for co-writing Do They Know It's Christmas? Ure acts as trustee for the charity, and serves as ambassador for Save The Children. His stage name, Midge, is a phonetic reversal of Jim, the diminutive form of his real name. Ascot is indeed honored to have a such a legend performing on the hallowed Old Paddock turf belting out his 1980 track Vienna (famously beaten to the top spot by Joe Dolce's novelty hit Shaddap You Face - less said about that the better).
Vocalist Nick Van Eede founded Cutting Crew along with Canadian guitarist Kevin Scott MacMichael in 1985. The band shot t number one in the US, Canada and Norway with their debut single ‘(I just) Died in Your Arms.’ The band received a prestigious Grammy nomination as Best New Artist of 1987.
Completing our line-up of stars form the ‘80s is Captain Sensible; co-founder of punk rock band The Damned who decided to go it alone in 1982. I remember being blown away as an impressionable teenager by Captain Sensible’s performance of Glad It’s All Over on Top of the Pops, with his distinctive red beret and wooden parrot - I didn’t then, and still don’t now, understand the significance of the latter. Never far from controversy, in September 2006 he formed a new British political party known as the Blah! Party. ‘Politics is dead’, he said in a statement at the time. ‘The British public aren't voting because the parties are totally ignoring their opinions. At the moment, the only real method of mass protest against this is by not voting’.
After the racing, take a trip down memory lane and relive the days of big hair, ‘Relax’ t-shirts and jackets with rolled up sleeves because the 1980s are back.
Tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup, including the Here and Now concert start from £25. To book, or for further information, call 0870 727 1234 or visit ascot.co.uk.