Hayley Turner’s defence of her Silver Saddle crown will begin with the ride on Lancelot Du Lac in Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Dash at Ascot.
Turner, a long-standing fixture at the meeting, was finally crowned leading rider 12 months ago as she captained a girls team containing Hollie Doyle and Josephine Gordon.
This time her team mates come from further afield, with Japanese sensation Nanako Fujita and Group One-winning rider Jamie Kah from Australia making up the triumvirate.
Eddystone Rock in the Stayers, Melting Dew in the Challenge, Pass The Vino in the Sprint and Sapa Inca in the Classic are Turner’s other chances.
“I love it, it’s like waiting for Christmas. I just enjoy it so much and I don’t know why, it’s just something a bit different and it’s good fun,” Turner told Sky Sports News.
“I had a good year last year and having the team event, while we ride as individuals, you keep an eye on everyone else as well.
“I was speaking to licensing and I think Nanako Fujita is going to be able to claim, which is great in the big handicaps. She’s had 92 winners so she’s very nearly a professional over here, but she’s not so that’s a big advantage.
“I’ve seen Jamie ride in Australia and she’s doing really well. It will be a good experience for them both.
“Riding at Ascot will be different to the tight, turning tracks they have and they’ll be up against Danny Tudhope, Jamie Spencer and Tadhg O’Shea, who have ridden it loads of times.
“I’ll hopefully get chance to walk the course with them and give them a bit of advice.
“It was nice to win it last year as it was named after Alistair Haggis and he came up with the idea of the girls team. Sadly he’s not with us anymore, so it was nice to win it.”
For Kah, she hopes it is the first of many visits to Ascot.
“It’s a privilege to ride in England and at Ascot,” she said.
“I moved to Melbourne about six months ago and ride mainly for David Hayes. It was amazing to ride my first Group One winner, it was actually a relief to get it off my back.
“I watch Royal Ascot on TV, it’s big back home, and I watched Hayley ride a winner there this year which was pretty cool. I’d love to ride at Royal Ascot one year. Hopefully this kicks off and I can come back next year.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting Hayley and I’ll be asking for some hints and tips about how to ride Ascot.”