Perhaps the Queen’s starring role in the Olympics opening ceremony had made a bigger impact on the Canadian-born jockey than most, but the aspiring actress, model and brilliant all-round athlete is clearly loving her mini-break from the rigours of wall-to-wall racing in California as she prepares for something a little different this weekend.
Sutherland, 36, has flown in to be part of The Girls Team in Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot. She joins fellow Canadian Emma-Jayne Wilson and England’s Hayley Turner as the all-female trio compete in racing’s only team competition, against riders from Great Britain and Ireland, Europe, as well as the Rest of the World.
This is the 12th running of the Shergar Cup at Ascot and many predict it will be the best. The competition has evolved, sometimes in unexpected directions, having progressed significantly from when it was conducted as predominantly for owners at Goodwood, with Sheikh Mohammed and the late Robert Sangster as team captains.
“It took quite a lot of managing to get me here, but I think London is wonderful,” gushed Sutherland, who was conducting her interviews in the novel surroundings of the Women’s Spa at The Dorchester in Park Lane as a group of Olympians limbered up on the opposite side of the road for the Open Water Swimming in the Serpentine in Hyde Park.
“I’ve heard so much about Ascot. I’ve always wanted to see it and to ride there. My agent at home has mixed feelings about me being here. While he’s happy I’m here doing something I’ve always wanted to do, I’m missing out on opportunities back home. I’m away for a week, and I could miss 30 rides. But I’ll be back well in time for the biggest ride I have coming up, which is Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic,” she said.
Sutherland starred in the fly-on-the-wall television series Jockeys as well as having a recurring role in the HBO production Luck. She was also the face of Canada-based cosmetic line Mistura Beauty. Does she ever have any trouble fitting in those commitments around her day-to-day racing regime?
“I use the dark days, when there’s no racing, for those things,” she explained. “The guys go off to play golf, but I do my modelling and acting, so it fits in well.”.
Chantal Sutherland has ridden 922 winners in her 13 years as a professional jockey and is hoping to add to the tally in the Shergar Cup. “My dream is to win the Cup with the girls. I can’t wait for it to start,” she said.