Australian-trained Boom Time may have failed to salute in Sunday’s Japan Cup in Tokyo, but the green and gold were still in the headlines with visiting hoop Hugh Bowman guiding Cheval Grand to victory.
Bowman is best known for his incredible run of success aboard the world’s best mare Winx and now he is set to officially be crowned the World’s Best Jockey for 2017 in Hong Kong next week.
He posted Group 1 win number 16 for the year at Tokyo Racecourse yesterday afternoon (Australian time), giving the master rider a career total of 75 elite level victories.
Six of his Group 1 wins this year have been aboard Chris Waller’s outstanding racehorse Winx, including for her third Ladbrokes Cox Plate success.
Bowman also enjoyed two Hong Kong Group 1 wins aboard Werther earlier in the year and the Chairman’s Sprint on Lucky Bubbles before taking out the Grade 1 Japan Cup (2400m) on the rails-drawn Cheval Grand, giving him four international feature race wins.
“I’m actually not sure how many Group 1 winners I have ridden this year,” Bowman, who is contracted in Japan until Christmas, told the media at a press conference on Sunday.
“There is 10, including the Japan Cup, on the list of the Longines Top 100 races but there are others in Australia that weren’t in the list.
“Naturally this has been a highlight season, this has been my most amazing year since I began riding 20 years ago.
“Obviously my association with Winx has helped, she is a world-famous race horse, she is the best horse on turf in the world and hasn’t been beaten in 22 runs, 15 at Group 1 level, so she is a very special equine athlete and she has certainly taken my career to a new level.
“I have also been the regular rider of a horse called Werther, who was named Hong Kong’s champion racehorse of the year in 2016 and he has provide me with two Group 1 wins in 2017.
“I also rode Lucky Bubbles to win in Hong Kong, the Chairman’s Sprint Prize.
“And also I was also champion jockey in Sydney, which the season ends at July 31, so for the season 2016 and 2017 I was Sydney’s champion jockey for the fourth time, so it has been an amazing year.”
As for his Japan Cup success over the weekend, Bowman said the favourable draw proved a huge advantage.
“The barrier draw was crucial and I know [jockey] Mirco Demuro had the choice of Satono Crown and Cheval Grand and I think if he could have made his decision after the draw, maybe he would choose Cheval Grand but we had a lucky draw which gave us the perfect run and when I needed my horse to be powerful, he was very strong,” he said.
Bowman has Cheval Grand positioned three back the fence before moving into the centre of the circuit heading into the home straight.
Defending Japan Cup winner and race favourite Kitasan Black was leading, but Cheval Grand gunned him down in the final furlong.
Holding off the fast finishing Japanese Derby champion Rey de Oro, Cheval Grand broke his elite level maiden status, while Kitasan Black held for third.
As for the David Hayes-trained and owned Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time, he only managed to run equal 12th.