Hugh Bowman predicts I’m Thunderstruck will go on to establish himself among the country’s premier gallopers after he swooped late to snatch a remarkable Golden Eagle victory.
It was the top jockey’s first win in the $7.5 million race and came just weeks after he celebrated the 100th Group 1 success of his career aboard Montefilia in The Metropolitan.
While the Golden Eagle (1500m) holds no black-type status, it is one of the richest races in Australia and Bowman had to work hard to claim it after Brock Ryan aboard Count De Rupee bounded clear halfway up the straight.
Bowman said he didn’t panic when he looked up to see Count De Rupee four lengths in front.
“I balanced him up and when I went for him, he found,” Bowman said.
“But at about the 200 metres he swapped legs and I just had to sit there while he got himself organised.
“Honestly, I was a passenger. He just took me to the line and I just made a point of not getting in his way and he delivered in spades.”
I’m Thunderstruck ($3.50) arrived just in time to nail Count De Rupee ($18) by a long head with Vangelic ($31) grabbing third another 1-1/2 lengths in arrears.
Trained by Mick Price and Michael Kent (Jnr), I’m Thunderstruck capped a meteoric rise having won a class one race at Sale in June before working his way through the grades to capture the Group 1 Toorak Handicap last start.
The Golden Eagle was the icing on the cake and watching the race from Flemington, Price was thrilled to see I’m Thunderstruck’s fighting qualities come to the fore.
“He always has to fight doesn’t he? He would have won by further and cleaner and easier if he had have had a nice run in the race, but always he’s had to fight his way out and then finish off,” Price said.
Bowman rode at the Cox Plate meeting at Moonee Valley last weekend and returned to Sydney to partner I’m Thunderstruck.
He said having a crowd back at the track made the victory all the sweeter.
“It’s as good as any Group One, I can assure you of that,” Bowman said.
“I won the Group One on Montefilia but there was no-one there, so it really lacked emotion and for me, it was a personal milestone. Having the people here and my family just really makes it.”
Brock Ryan was gutted to lose the race in the final bounds but was proud of his horse.
“I feel like I’m gonna cry because I just got beat,” Ryan said.
“Super effort. I thought I was the winner from the moment we straightened. (We) just got run down late.”
Count De Rupee’s trainers Robert and Luke Price were among the first to congratulate Bowman after the win and will consider taking the horse to The Gong.
“I thought we were home. I’ve nearly lost my voice from cheering,” Robert Price said.
“I think the winner is a very, very good horse. I think out horse is an outstanding horse. He has run great.”