Hugh Bowman salutes Winx's 2016 Cox Plate win (Image: Racing Photos)
Hugh Bowman has revealed that he feels Australia's champion racehorse Winx actually prefers racing anti-clockwise and so he can hardly wait for the super mare's return to Melbourne for the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes at Flemington early next month.
Winx, who is shooting to equal Kingston Town's record of three Cox Plates next month at The Valley, has raced just three times in Melbourne over the past two seasons but Bowman said on Wednesday morning that the left-handed way of racing best suits Winx's freakish galloping style.
"I tend to look forward to riding her all the time but she's definitely more comfortable going the Melbourne way, I will say that," Bowman said.
"She just seems to enjoy galloping on her Melbourne leg. I don't know why that is. Some horses are like it but she certainly prefers leaning into her Melbourne leg when she's going through her gears."
Winx will be aiming at win No. 21 in a row in the Turnbull on October 7 before three weeks later comes her pursuit of what is likely to be a 22nd win in a row and a third Cox Plate in succession.
Victory in both the Turnbull and Cox Plate would elevate Winx as Australasia's highest-ever stakes earner as that would take her beyond Makybe Diva's grand total of $14,526,685.
Before Winx's return to Melbourne, Bowman himself will see quite a bit of the city as he'll take crucial rides at the Moir Stakes meeting on Friday night at The Valley, return to Randwick on Saturday for the Epsom/Metropolitan meeting and then catch a Sunday morning flight back to Melbourne for the Underwood Stakes meeting at Caulfield.
"And then I've got to get back to Sydney to ride at the Warwick Farm meeting on Monday so there's plenty of travel but there's plenty of good rides for me as well," he said.
One of those is Bonneval in the Underwood Stakes. Bowman has ridden her just once - for a four-and-a-half-length romp in the ATC Oaks last autumn.
"She gave me a good feel (in the Oaks)," he said. "It was an impressive win. It was a pretty solidly-run race and she gave me the feel that she's a genuine mile-and-a-half-plus horse so she's certainly exciting."
Bowman takes the ride on Doncaster Handicap winner It's Somewhat in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, where he will be looking for some redemption.
"I need to redeem myself with It's Somewhat," he said. "The last time I rode him at Caulfield I got strung up and I think he was odds-on favourite and I ran second to Vanbrugh if I remember.
"It's short of his best trip. It's only 1400 (metres) but I trialled him and he's in very good shape so he'll race well fresh."
Several of Bowman's Group 1 rides over the weekend have sticky draws but the rider said the wide gate for Foxplay in Saturday's Epsom Handicap at Randwick did not concern him too much.
"She's drawn wide, as has Russian Revolution in the Moir," he said. "I'm not too worried about Foxplay's draw because she appreciates a bit of racing room so if I can get three-wide with cover or something with her I'd be satisfied with that but for Russian Revolution, he's drawn wide over the 1000 metres at Moonee Valley but there's not much I can do about it."
Bowman also reunites with Who Shot Thebarman in the Metropolitan after last riding the horse into fifth placing in last spring's Melbourne Cup.
"He's responsible for my closest finish in the Mebourne Cup," Bowman said. "He'll run an honest race again - whether he can win it or not is another thing - but he'll always make his presence felt in a race like this.
"He's got old legs now but he's still racing with enthusiasm and at a mile-and-a-half going to be more comfortable than he has been at his first two runs this time in."