Bowman rebounds with renewed hope in Slipper
CHAMPION jockey Hugh Bowman reunites with controversial colt Performer for what he describes as the most open $3.5 million Longines Golden Slipper in years at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Bowman, still chasing his first win in the world's richest juvenile race, said Saturday's big race is loaded with chances.
"Sunlight is the benchmark in my opinion but it's probably the most open Golden Slipper I've seen in 10 years or so,'' Bowman said.
"There are seven or eight horses with genuine winning chances and luck in running is going to play a big part."
Bowman received a medical clearance to resume riding earlier this week after suffering concussion when sensationally dumped from Performer in the Todman Stakes on March 10.
The world's top-rated jockey has been out to Rosehill trackwork twice this week to ride mighty mare Winx, including a steady workout on Thursday morning but he hasn't been back on Performer yet.
"I haven't been on Performer since I fell off him,'' Bowman said.
"But I'm looking forward to being reunited with him. I was very impressed with his trial when he had the blinkers on.
"My gut feel is they (blinkers) would have gone on anyway for the Golden Slipper regardless of what happened in the Todman. He is an exciting colt and has given me a great deal of confidence since the first time I sat on him.''
If Bowman can rebound from the fall and win the Golden Slipper on Performer, it won't be without precedent.
Shane Dye won his record-equalling fourth Golden Slipper on Burst in 1992 after the filly had dumped him in the mounting yard before a race at Newcastle earlier that autumn.
Bowman has won 78 Group 1 races during his career but a Golden Slipper has eluded him - so far.
"Every year I try to talk myself into thinking I've got a winning chance but the reality is my last winning chance would have been Meurice, who I rode into third place for Gai Waterhouse in 2007,'' Bowman said.
"It's exciting going into the race with a genuine top contender.''
Bowman conceded he was disappointed when Performer drew barrier 16 but the expected rain-affected track "might nullify the wide draw".
Performer had been unbeaten prior to the Todman Stakes incident and Bowman feels the colt would going to maintain his perfect race record last start.
"I think he would have gone very close to winning,'' Bowman said. "I'm not suggesting he was definitely going to win but I would say he would've either just won or been beaten neck or less. That's my gut feeling but I guess we'll never know.
"He is a quality horse and reacted to something the other day but that doesn't concern me.
"It wasn't as if he shied, something upset him. Whether it was my riding, I don't know what it was really but I just don't expect him to do it again.''
Bowman, who rode a double when he returned to race riding at Newcastle on Thursday, has eight rides on Slipper Day, including mighty mare Winx in the Group 1 $1 million The Agency George Ryder Stakes (1500m).
His other Group 1 rides are Prized Icon in the $700,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m), Le Romain in the $700,000 The PFD Food Services The Galaxy (1100m) and D'Argento in the $600,000 Sky Racing Rosehill Guineas (2000m).