Australia’s champion Group 1 jockey Hugh Bowman will be hoping to produce a little ‘magic’ of his own with plum rides in the two Group 1’s which are among the six races to be simulcast from the Flemington meeting this Saturday.
Bowman, who has topped the Group 1 winner’s list in Australia for each of the past three seasons with an aggregate of 25 major wins, will be taking on the best of his local contemporaries and the ‘magic man’ himself, Joao Moreira - fresh from his history making eight wins from ten rides at Sha Tin last Sunday.
The Sydney based Bowman, is bypassing the major meeting in his home state, to ride in Melbourne where he will be aboard Spieth in the Newmarket Handicap (G1 1200m) and Jameka in the Australian Cup (G1 2000m).
His two mounts could well start favourite and, on paper, he has the edge on Moreira who will ride Godolphin’s Tally in the Australian Cup and will now ride Extreme Choice in the major sprint as his original booking Flying Artie has been ruled out through illness. Final fields and riders will be released Wednesday morning.
Moreira, who now boasts bags of eight in three countries having earlier achieved the feat in Brazil and Singapore, has a fine record from limited opportunity at Flemington with six wins for almost A$2.9 million in prize money. They include the 2015 Newmarket Handicap on Brazen Beau.
Saturday’s two majors have not, however, been especially fruitful for Bowman given his remarkable overall record. His lone win in either race came on Preferment in last year’s Australian Cup and that was won in the stewards room after the jockey successfully objected against the first home Awesome Rock.
However, Saturday might set that straight for Bowman as Spieth looks the horse to beat after nose defeats in Group 1 races at his past two starts down the Flemington straight course. And last year’s Caulfield Cup (G1 2400m) winner Jameka looks primed for the 2000 metres Australian Cup after two sound preparatory runs this year.
Bowman rode Spieth for the first time when he was beaten millimetres behind Terravista in the 18 February Lightning Stakes (G1 1000m).
He was the seventh different jockey to ride Spieth in ten race starts. This Saturday, he is advantaged at the weights against Terravista and Spieth’s trainer Bryce Heys is confident that having Bowman ride again is a major advantage.
“Hugh sticks with him and I think the horse will be better for having him on board again. Spieth has proven himself now and having Hughie on is a big plus,” Heys said.
Heys described his horse as ‘being in great order’ in the lead in to Saturday’s A$1.25 million race.
Moreira’s mount Extreme Choice was expected to next run in the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley on 24 March but trainer Mick Price decided, with stablemate Flying Artie out and therefore Moreira available, he would change plans.
“He’s been thriving and with Moreira available I thought I would give him his chance. He’s coming off an outstanding run in the Oakleigh Plate (G1 1100m) and I’m not scared to take on a Newmarket with a horse as good as him,” Price said.