Champion jockey Hugh Bowman came painstakingly close to sitting on the sidelines during the rich Sydney Autumn Carnival and missing the coveted ride on glamour mare Winx after misjudging the finish on Olympic Academy at Randwick last Saturday.
Bowman eventually won the $100,000 Rebecca Louise BenchMark 82 Handicap (1600m) on the Kris Lees trained Olympic Academy but was quickly ushered into the stewards’ room to explain his riding out of the six year old gelding.
Stewards claimed Bowman stopped riding Olympic Academy over the final two strides and the leading jockey pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $600, but the results could have been far worst had the gelding not gained the judge’s decision by the narrowest of margins over runner up Sabino Speed ridden by Peter Wells.
Racing New South Wales chief steward Marc Van Gestel said that Bowman would have been facing a long suspension if Olympic Academy had lost the race a result of him failing to ride his mount out to the line.
“I don’t need to sit here and tell you the circumstances would have been different had you not gone on to win the race,” Van Gestel said.
“You would have missed the start if not most of the autumn carnival if you had not held on to your first placing.”
Bowman admits that he misjudged the finish and he would have been devastated to have missed the Autumn Carnival mounts on dual Cox Plate winner Winx.
“I actually thought I was a good long neck in front and misjudged it,” Bowman told stewards.
“It was a genuine misjudgment. I felt we had the other horse covered comfortably. I can tell you no one got more of a fright than me when Peter Wells said ‘I think I won’ pulling up.”
“I should have known better.”
Winx is on the verge of resuming for her Autumn Carnival campaign and trainer Chris Waller will give the super star mare one more barrier trial before stepping out in the Group 2 $250,000 Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 11.
Bowman hasn’t missed a ride on Winx since the 2015 Spring Carnival and was back on board when she ran third in a 900m barrier trial at Rosehill on January 17.
Waller has mapped out a tentative 2017 Autumn Carnival program very similar to last year’s with Winx to resume racing in the Apollo Stakes before stepping out second up in the Group 1 $600,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on February 25 followed by the Group 1 $1m George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on March 18.
Winx won all three of those races during the 2016 Autumn Carnival before going on to win the Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on the first day of ‘The Championships’ but Waller will miss the famous Randwick Mile this year and run her in the weight for age Group 1 $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 8.