Bowman’s Clearly keen on G1 breakthrough
HE stamped his authority on the Brisbane winter last month and Clearly Innocent is poised to add the $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) his Group 1 tally.
The exciting five-year-old will have to do it the hard way from an outside alley, with top weight of 57kg, around Doomben but he has the nation’s leading Group 1 rider on his side.
Hugh Bowman, already with 12 Australian majors this season, is yet to win one of the three Group 1s on tomorrow’s card but is adamant the barrier won’t beat Clearly Innocent.
‘’I honestly don’t think it is any concern,’’ he said.
HUGH Bowman has taken all before him this season but the champion jockey is out to correct a surprising omission from his growing CV at Doomben tomorrow.
Among his 65 Australian Group 1s so far, and for all his dominance in the last few seasons, Bowman is yet to win one of the feature races – the Stradbroke, JJ Atkins and Queensland Derby – on Brisbane’s biggest day.
With the ride on Stradbroke favourite Clearly Innocent, plus Atkins and Derby second favourites Taking Aim and Ruthven, Bowman is in the box seat to break through. Ironically, Doomben was the scene of the 36-year-old’s first Group 1 triumph on Defier in the 2004 Doomben Cup. While Clearly Innocent, a dominant winner of the Kingsford-Smith Cup two weeks ago, drew the carpark in Group 1 $1.5m UBET Stradbroke Handicap (1350m), Bowman warned not to get too carried away with a seemingly unfavourable gate. “I honestly don’t think it’s any concern, I’d have more chance of bad luck if I drew soft,” he said. “I don’t think the handicap is against him either, even though he is carrying top weight. I don’t think he will be beaten because of the weight, it will be circumstantial.” Bowman has also warned not to overrate the performance of Clearly Innocent at Eagle Farm. That’s not taking away from what was a dominant Group 1 win but he said some horses just didn’t handle the shifty heavy ground. “As excited as I was in his win there I’d be careful getting too rapt up in the way he did it, just as much as I’d be forgiving to a horse that didn’t perform his peak,” he said.
“But he can really gallop, he’s a genuine Group 1 horse in my opinion and win, lose or draw he’s going to be one of the headline acts in the spring.
“He oozes class, he’s been handled superbly by Greg Bennett and Kris (Lees).”
Bowman’s best result in the Stradbroke was when he partnered Queensland idol Buffering into second place in the 2012 edition.
Clearly Innocent was able to get a trail behind one of the leading contenders at Eagle Farm before unleashing down the outside and Bowman will be hoping for a similar scenario.
“I didn’t expect to be quite so far back but I was able to track Counterattack,” he said.
“When came out from behind Counterattack, even though Jungle Edge was way out in front I could tell I going to catch him.
“I would think 1400m is his premium distance but time will tell, he might be a strong miler though I have my reservations.” In discussing whether twoyear-old Taking Aim can turn the tables on Kiwi filly Melody Belle in the Group 1 $600,000 BMW JJ Atkins (1600m), Bowman reiterated his comments about the circumstances at Eagle Farm. Taking Aim was beaten almost five lengths by Melody Belle in the Sires’ Produce and although Bowman isn’t bullish about reversing the result he doubts the margin will be the same.
“I think Doomben bring her back to the field, it was a unique track and as explosive as she was that margin needs to be accounted for that we were at Eagle Farm,” he said.
“She was superior but I’d be surprised if she’s that dominant again on a fairer surface.
“I’m more confident about (beating her) at Doomben than I would be Eagle Farm because my gut feel is 1600m might a bit far for him.
“Luck in running may play a part him succeeding but he’ll need things to go his way.”
Ciaron Maher’s colt Ruthven butters up for his third Derby in four starts following a fourth the ATC Derby and second
SA Derby. Bowman took the opportunity to galloped Ruthven in Sydney on Tuesday morning ahead of the Group 1 $600,000 Queensland Derby (2200m) and came away educated.
“He worked particularly well, he’s a peculiar little horse,” he said.
“He has lot of character about him but Ciaron’s reasoning for running him in Adelaide and Brisbane is that he’s so immature.
“He’s a quirky little fellow and he’s looked the winner a couple of times and hasn’t got it done.”
Champion Winx is responsible for six of Bowman’s 12 local Group 1s this season and the build up is already underway to her shot at history a third successive Cox Plate later this year.
Photos of Winx, currently on a 17 start winning streak, enjoying pre-training circulated last weekend and Bowman was suitably impressed with her condition.
“She looks well and healthy, and good in the coat considering the time of year,” he said.
Winx will likely resume in the Warwick Stakes in August though trainer Chris Waller is yet to lock in her program publicly.