Hugh Bowman has needed a photo finish and a win in the last race at Canterbury to overtake Brenton Avdulla as the Sydney jockey’s premiership race goes down to the wire.
Bowman started the Canterbury midweek meeting 1-1/2 wins behind Avdulla and now leads outright after guiding Awoke and Viceroy to victory on Wednesday.
The in-form Bowman, who rode a treble at Canterbury last week before Avdulla was suspended for careless riding, bridged the gap when Awoke scored first-up by a short half-head in the Benchmark Handicap (1250m).
“Yeah, I’ve hit the front. I had nice rides, they all had their chances. Six rides for five placings and a fourth. It’s not a bad effort,” Bowman said.
Awoke, who raced in Group company three times last spring, recorded her third win in nine starts by nabbing The Pharoah on the line to suggest she could step up to black-type company again come September.
“It was good to see her fight like that,” trainer Chris Waller said.
Sydney’s premier trainer said Awoke wavered during her previous preparation in January-February but appeared to be back in the groove.
“We couldn’t put our finger on it. She was getting off balance and doing things wrong. She was racing like a stressed horse,” Waller said.
He was confident she would rediscover her rhythm given she has form around stablemate Foxplay, including a win before that filly progressed to win the Group One Queen Of The Turf in April.
“There’s not much better form around that (Foxplay) for a three-year-old filly,” Waller said.
Bowman thought Awoke could again be competitive in Group and Listed races.
“She’s shown she’s up to better company than what she’s met here and it’s nice to see her return in that form.”
Bowman capped a day that included a second and two thirds by helping engineer Canberra trainer Luke Pepper’s first city quinella as four-year-old Viceroy, the $3.20 favourite, beat Erins Zar ($12) by half a length in a Benchmark Handicap (1250m).
“It’s great effort by him (Pepper) and the stable,” Bowman said.
“He places his horses very well. He probably doesn’t have many up to the standard of coming to the city but when he does they inevitably run very well.”
Pepper deflected the praise to Bowman saying his ride had won the race.