Hugh Bowman is set to be the next – and only the third – jockey in history to record 100 Australian Group 1 wins.
Bowman takes a step closer to that historic milestone when The Championships kick off at Randwick racecourse on Saturday 4 April.
Bowman, the Group 1 king
Hugh Bowman, at 40, is at the peak of his powers, although there has been something of a post-Winx letdown for the bush boy from Dunedoo.
Bowman is poised to be the next – and only the third – jockey to ride 100 Group 1 winners in Australia, and he is hoping that he can add to his tally of 88 (plus six wins overseas) when he rides at the opening meeting of The Championships 2020.
Only Victoria’s Damien Oliver, with 115 Group 1 wins, and the late George ‘Cotton Fingers’ Moore, with 104), have ridden more than 100 Group 1 winners (or their equivalent) in Australia.
Bowman has dominated Group 1 racing in Australia in the past six years thanks to his association with leading trainer Chris Waller and the wonder mare Winx.
The trio combined to win 26 Group 1 races, most during a 33-run unbeaten streak from over four years from May 2015 until Winx’s retirement at last year’s The Championships at Randwick in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
After averaging more than 10 Group 1 wins a season during the Winx years, Bowman has won only three in the 12 months since Winx retired – the 2019 Golden Rose (on Bivouac), the 2019 Thousand Guineas (on Flit) and last month’s first Golden Slipper win on Farnan.
Where it all began
Hugh Bowman was born and raised in Dunedoo, on the northwest corner of the Hunter Valley. He comes from an old district family steeped in racing history.
He was an amateur rider before deciding to try his hand at being a professional under the guidance of former top bush jockey Billy Aspros.
In Sydney, under the tutelage of Ron Quinton, he emerged as a star. In 2004, he rode his first Group 1 winner on Defier for trainer Guy Walter. The Bowman–Walter partnership was a serious betting plan for punters as they had a strike rate of 20.8 per cent, including four Group 1s.
In 2007, Bowman rode in England with great success – 10 winners from his first 32 rides – including winning the Shergar Cup at Ascot racecourse as captain of the Rest of the Word jockeys team.
In 2008, it was an association with star filly Samantha Miss, trained by Kris Lees, that entrenched him back in the minds of Australian racing fans.
Of course, riding Winx has given him success and pleasures few other riders can boast.
The Waller connection
It’s been Bowman’s relationship with Chris Waller that has helped him to the top of the jockey tree. The duo has combined for an incredible strike rate of 18.6 per cent (376 wins from 2037 rides), including 38 Group 1s. Bowman also strikes better than 22 per cent with two other leading Sydney trainers, Peter and Paul Snowden, and Gai Waterhouse (now partnered with Adrian Bott).
Thinking of tipping a Hugh Bowman ride?
As expected, Bowman rarely rides long shots and most of his rides feature strongly in the betting markets.
His strike rate on favourites in the metropolitan area this season is: 20 winners from 66 rides at a strike rate of 30.3 per cent. That’s a healthy return and his three Group 1 winners were all favourites – Bivouac (Golden Rose, $2.50), Flit (Thousand Guineas, $2.40) and Farnan (Golden Slipper, $4.80).
Bowman’s strike rate on favourites in Group 1 races this season is three winners from nine.
Bowman’s rides in four Group 1 races on day one of The Championships are: King’s Legacy (Sires’ Produce Stakes), Zebrowski (Australian Derby), Bivouac (TJ Smith Stakes) and Kolding (Doncaster Mile) – none are favourites, but Bivouac has been well backed to beat the hot favourite, Nature Strip, in the TJ Smith Stakes. Bowman has a strong relationship with this horse and he’s considered one of the best tips to beat Nature Strip.
His best winning chance could be in the Melbourne filly, Paradee (race 4, number 2), in the Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m). The filly, trained by Danny O’Brien, is a firming second favourite at $3.40 (Friday) in Sportsbet’s betting markets.
Note: Bowman was suspended for not riding out Avilius at the finish of last week’s Tancred Stakes. His chance of riding next week at The Championships depends on an appeal, which will be heard on Monday.