Hugh Bowman will ride at both days of Sydney’s The Championships in April, with the star jockey and his family returning to Australia to sort some personal matters after committing to stay in Hong Kong until at least the end of the 2022-23 season.
Bowman, who will miss the Hong Kong meetings on April 2 and 6, will ride at Randwick on April 1 and 8, targeting big-money races like the Group One Doncaster Mile and Group One Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2,000m).
“We came to Hong Kong in a bit of a rush, so we’ve got a bit of organising to do at home. I just thought, it’s school holidays at that time, the Championships are on, so it just seemed a logical week to go back and do all that,” Bowman said.
“It gives the kids an opportunity to get home and see the family, and we can do what we need to do. It just worked out and the club were satisfied I could do that.”
Bowman identified Kiwi galloper Sharp ‘N’ Smart as one he is keen to chase more success with after winning October’s Group One Spring Champion Stakes (2,000m) aboard the three-year-old.
“Sharp ‘N’ Sharp is on a Derby trail, but it’s really probably a little bit soon as far as pinpointing rides,” he said.
“I’d love to reunite with Fangirl if that worked out, but it’s probably doubtful she’d get my weight in a race like the Doncaster. But if she did, I’ve got a huge opinion of her. They know I’m coming, but I haven’t really been in touch with anyone.”
One place Bowman will not be going is Qatar after opting not to partner Senor Toba – the galloper on whom he won last Sunday’s Group Three Centenary Vase (1,800m) – in next weekend’s H.H. The Amir Trophy (2,400m) at Al Rayyan Racecourse.
Trainer Caspar Fownes had hoped to secure Bowman’s services after a mix-up with his first choice jockey, Joao Moreira. Now he has turned to Harry Bentley.
A six-time champion jockey in Qatar, Bentley won the H.H. The Amir Trophy in 2016 and 2018 aboard The Blue Eye.
“Obviously, Joao got his dates wrong and Bowman decided to stay in Hong Kong, so Harry reached out and I thought he was perfect,” Fownes said.
“He’s a six-time champion over there and he’s won the race twice. He’s riding well and he’s ridden some winners for me.”
Senor Toba and fellow H.H. The Amir Trophy contestant Russian Emperor depart Hong Kong on Saturday, while Bentley will head to the Middle East after next Wednesday’s Happy Valley meeting and miss the Sha Tin card on February 19.
“I’ll be going back for the first time in three years, which will be good. I’ve won this race twice with a horse called The Blue Eye, so at least I know the race well, and I rode in Qatar for seven seasons, so I’ve been around there a fair few times,” said Bentley, confirming he has secured a number of other rides while he is in Qatar.
“I’ve been on the phone to a few of my old contacts and I’m going to be getting on some other horses as well. I’ll be riding on the Friday and Saturday, which will be perfect as far as getting my eye in on the track again and getting familiarised before the big race.
“Obviously, the distance of the race is really going to suit Senor Toba and the layout of the track should play into his hands. It’s obviously going to be a really tough race, but I like the horse going into it.
“Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get back in time to ride on the 19th, which is obviously a shame, but being such a big meeting out in Qatar, I think it makes sense to take up the opportunity to go.”
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