Clearly Supreme

Bow­man’s Clearly keen on G1 break­through

The Sportsman Weekend - - Front Page - By RAY HICK­SON

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.

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