Hugh Bowman is looking for a slice of history when he returns to Flemington on Saturday.
Bowman raced away with the Group One Victoria Derby (2500m) on Lion Tamer 12 months ago and partners another Kiwi stayer, Sangster, in the $1.5 million Classic.
He will be striving to become the first jockey in almost 40 years to claim back-to-back Victoria Derbys with Roy Higgins the last to achieve the feat with wins in 1972 and 1973.
Sydney-based Bowman also took out last year’s Group One Emirates Stakes on New Zealander Wall Street on the last day of the Melbourne Cup carnival.
“Last year was great, but that was last year,” Bowman said.
“He (Sangster) didn’t work all that flash on Tuesday morning but I’m not throwing my toys out of the cot or anything.
“He worked with Sabrage and he definitely worked better than me but at least I’ve got a feel of the horse now.”
Bowman has never ridden the Trent Busuttin-trained Sangster in a race but is pleased to be riding the son of Savabeel in a Derby field he described as quite even.
“He looks to be a genuine chance in an even year,” Bowman said.
“(Favourite) Manawanui needs to be respected but I think he’s a genuine risk at the distance.
“He’s so brilliant which is against him but you might not need to be able to stay to win this Derby.”
Bowman had ridden Lion Tamer in two of his four Australian starts before last year’s Derby, including the colt’s second in the Vase at Moonee Valley a week earlier.
“I was definitely more confident going into last year because his (Lion Tamer’s) run in the Vase gave me terrific confidence,” Bowman said.
Sangster finished third in the Group One Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) and second to Sabrage in the Group Three Norman Robinson Stakes (2000m) in his lead-up runs.
Sangster was at $12 with TAB Sportsbet on Friday while Manawanui remained the favourite at $2.60.
Bowman was due to ride Lion Tamer in the Melbourne Cup this year but the four-year-old broke down and had to be euthanased after last Saturday’s Cox Plate.
The jockey is now set to ride Mourayan in the Melbourne Cup and partners the Lloyd Williams-owned stayer in Saturday’s Group One Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).
He also rides Hot Snitzel in the Group One Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m), Neeson in the Group Two Salinger Stakes (1200m) and Torio’s Quest in the Group Three Tab.com.au Stakes (1400m).
Bowman said there was no use dwelling on past successes or disappointments and had to just look ahead and “keep turning up”.
“It’s nice to go into these meetings in good form, but I wouldn’t say I was in the best form of my career last year but I got some luck and I was able to win a Group One on two of the four days,” he said.
“Luck plays a major part this week but I feel privileged to be in a position to maybe have luck come my way, and that’s come from a lot of hard work.”