Stevens looks for Captain's innings
Gary Stevens is thrilled to be back at Ascot for the Shergar Cup where he captains the Rest of the World team.
The 50-year-old was last in action at the Queen's track 10 years ago, but a retirement, a TV series, a media career and a film later, he will be back at the course he rates as one of his favourites in the world.
Stevens created quite a stir when he announced his return to the saddle in January, some seven years after he bowed out in with nearly 5,000 winners and over 220million in prize money.
The man himself admits he was unsure how he would fare back in racecourse action but his return could hardly have gone better with his Preakness Stakes win aboard Oxbow a particular highlight back in May.
"I'm excited to be back, it's been a long time and this is one of my favourite racecourses in the world. It's been very kind to me in the past," he said.
"It's been going well since I came back.
"I got a call back in January serving this up to me and I've been looking forward to coming back - it is a good job the comeback has gone well though as I wanted to come here as a worthy team captain.
"It was pretty scary coming back, I didn't really know how the return would go and I put a lot of pressure on myself for it to go well and luckily it has."
Stevens, who famously starred as legendary jockey George Woolf in the 2003 film Seasbiscuit, takes his place alongside Japanese champion Yasunari Iwata, who competed at the Shergar Cup in 2010, and the Brazilian-born champion of Singapore Joao Moreira.
As well as leading his side Stevens is looking forward to renewing his acquaintance with the local riders too after making plenty of friends during a spell riding for Sir Michael Stoute in 1999.
"I've got the Japanese champion jockey on my team which says a lot and the leading rider in Singapore - there is a lot of talent in this competition," he said.
"It's also great to riding with Kieren Fallon again, we know each other well and are good friends.
"I have ridden in several competitions in the past. We had an international jockeys competition at Santa Anita a few years ago, Lester Piggott captained the European side and Bill Shoemaker captained the American side - that was pretty special."
Stevens may not have ridden at Ascot for years, but he certainly remembers his way around and is no less interested in events in Berkshire or Britain as a whole despite being back in the States.
"The track is in my mind - I have ridden races at Ascot in my dreams," he said.
"I was up watching the racing from Royal Ascot back in June and last week I was up to watch all the racing from Glorious Goodwood.
"I'm a racing fan and I love the racing in the UK. I'm a fan of the sport and if you don't keep track of what's happening worldwide, you're behind the times
"It definitely translates in America. There's lots in the press when the big summer meetings are going on."
Stevens rode a double at the Royal fixture in 1999, highlighted by the Queen's Blueprint in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes, while he also partnered Membership for Clive Brittain in 2003.
He would obviously love to triumph again at Ascot, but he is far from banking on victory in the team competition, believing that luck, fittingly for a man who starred in the HBO series of that name, will have its part to play,
"It really is luck of the draw with this group of riders," he said.
"Decisions will be made which will win or lose the competition.
"It would be great to win but I think a lot will depend on your luck."