The Epsom Handicap is one of the only major Sydney races that have not been won by Hugh Bowman and the leading hoop is hoping that Royal Descent can deliver his first win in the Group 1 event at Royal Randwick tomorrow.
Bowman has ridden in the Epsom Handicap on six occasions and he had no luck on the likes of Dress Circle (2003), Reigning To Win (2008), Danleigh (2010), Triple Elegance (2011) and Shoot Out (2012) before he finished a very close second on Streama in last year’s race.
The leading Sydney jockey admitted that he thought he had won last year’s Epsom Handicap on Streama and told TVN that he is desperate to turn around his luck in one of the biggest races on the Australian racing calendar.
“I haven’t had much luck in the big Randwick miles yet,” Bowman said.
“I’ve finished second in both of them.
“Last year was very disappointing, I thought I’d won.
“I’d got back on her after having success on her earlier in her career and I thought I’d finally broken through in a big one.”
Bowman has been booked to ride Royal Descent in the Epsom Handicap and he will be partnering the talented mare under race conditions for the just the second time after finishing fourth on the five-year-old in the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill Gardens earlier this year.
Royal Descent has not recorded a race win since she took out the 2012 edition of the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m), but she has finished second in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m), Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) and Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) this preparation and Bowman believes that she is a genuine winning chance in the Epsom Handicap.
“I think I’ve only had the mount once on race day, but I’ve ridden her in trials and trackwork,” Bowman said of Royal Descent.
“She’s being aimed at the Cox Plate so she ought to be ready to go now.
“She’s a nice mare who’s been racing consistently at the top level and I think she’s a genuine top-three chance.”
Royal Descent is currently available at 2014 Epsom Handicap odds of $4.80 and is a narrow favourite from Team Hawkes-trained Toydini ($5.50), stablemate He’s Your Man ($5.50), last year’s winner Boban ($7) and market mover Laser Hawk ($9).