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Aussies are fired up for revenge bid in Shergar Cup

By Frank Brownlow

Ulster's rising star Sammy Jo Bell has been handed a cracking book of five rides in the prestigious Shergar Cup at Ascot - when she will be up against a couple of Aussies smarting from Ashes humiliation.

The Dunadry jockey will ride Arctic Feeling, Highland Castle, My Spirit, Alfred Hutchinson and Shell Bay in the annual showdown which sees four teams - Great Britain & Ireland, Europe, Rest of the World and a women's select - battle it out.

Sammy Jo, who has hit the headlines this season with her swashbuckling challenge for the apprentice jockeys title, was called up on Tuesday night due to an injury to Cathy Gannon.

"I'm gutted for Cathy because she is someone I really look up to but I am delighted to get the opportunity," said Sammy Jo.

The women's team will be captained by Hayley Turner.

Australian riders Blake Shinn and Kerrin McEvoy are out to restore some national pride in tomorrow's Shergar Cup after their cricket team slumped to a humiliating 60 all out on the first day of the fourth Ashes test.

Shinn, who will ride on the Rest of the World team along with McEvoy, tweeted: "(I'm) determined that at least some Aussies are going to win.

"This is the most I've seen of the (Ashes) series but obviously I take an interest in it," McEvoy added.

"I'm not a keen follower of the cricket so it's not too painful.

"They were all out for 60 but hopefully they can reciprocate it, you always want to see your nation doing well."

Shinn was delighted to be called up for the Shergar Cup showpiece.

"It's great to be recognised and to get an invitation - I have to pinch myself," he said.

"I feel privileged and very honoured. In a way it's like a mini-Olympics - you can feel the build-up already.

"It's my first time riding at Ascot, one of the world's unique courses, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge.

"Even if it doesn't go right I'm going to meet amazing people and I'll take a lot of positives."

Meanwhile, Ruby Walsh riding the fancied Bashboy in Sunday's Australian Grand National at Ballarat is causing a real stir Down Under.

Ballarat Turf Club chief executive Laclan McKenzie, whose track is offering free entry, said: "This is a great opportunity to come and see the best-ever rider over jumps.

"We liken it to when Moonee Valley threw the gates open when Black Caviar had her last start and this is the jump racing equivalent, the best steeplechaser of recent times together with the world's best jump jockey."

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Fields Of Athenry won the featured Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown last night, Seamie Heffernan in the saddle.

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