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Hugh Bowman’s bid for a third Sydney jockeys’ premiership will swing into countdown mode with seven rides at Canterbury on Wednesday.

Bowman returns to Sydney racing after missing the past four metropolitan meetings due to Brisbane winter carnival commitments and suspension.

And his absence meant he has barely made an impression on James McDonald’s premiership lead since the Godolphin jockey left for a European riding stint.

There are 11 city meetings left in the season and Bowman still needs seven winners to overtake McDonald (88.5), yet he is the TAB’s favourite to add the title to his 2008-2009 and 2011-2012 premierships.

Blake Shinn is a half win behind Bowman (82) but he doesn’t return from suspension until Saturday’s Rosehill meeting.

Bowman’s book includes Zayam, an imported galloper which trainer Matthew Smith expects to be close to his peak fitness in the TAB Rewards Handicap (1550m).

It took only two starts for Zayam to break through in Australia after Smith purchased the five-year-old during a fact-finding mission in France.

Although he is yet to figure in the money in three starts this term, Smith says he saw enough in Zayam’s last start at Warwick Farm to rate him a winning chance.

“He’s probably at the lower end of his distance range but he’s won over a mile at Warwick Farm and I expect him to run well,” Smith said.

“I had a look at a lot of horses when I took a trip to France and ended up with Zayam from a tried horses’ sale.

“He is a lovely big type of horse. Everything was right with him.”

Zayam holds down the third line of betting behind the favourite Careless after finishing a close fourth to Mydream at Warwick Farm on June 3.

Bowman’s book also includes last-start winner Miss Denni in the TAB Place Multi Handicap, one of two rides he has for leading trainer Chris Waller.

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