Hugh Bowman is looking to the most successful modern-day trainer in Golden Slipper history to deliver him a coveted win in the world’s richest two-year-old race.
Bowman partners second favourite Farnan for Tulloch Lodge trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott in Saturday’s $3.5 million Golden Slipper showpiece.
The meeting will be closed to the public because of the coronavirus but the stakes remain high.
Like Bowman, Bott is chasing his first win but for Waterhouse, Farnan is a chance to take her Slipper tally to seven and claim outright ownership of the training record she currently shares with her father, the late TJ Smith.
While Bowman has won his share of major Australian races, many of them aboard Winx, his best Slipper result was a second aboard Microphone last year.
In Farnan, he believes he has the horse to break his duck.
“It’s a signature race on the calendar and you don’t get many opportunities to win one,” Bowman said.
“I had one last year and I’ve got another one this year. I’m really excited about that.
“What will be will be, but it’s great to be going in with a live chance.”
Bowman rides for many stables but has the strongest bonds to premier trainer Chris Waller and the Godolphin operation led by James Cummings.
His combination with Tulloch Lodge is infrequent, but that has not always been the case.
Waterhouse and Bowman were once a common and formidable team, enjoying Group One success with Cheeky Choice in the 2006 Flight Stakes and Desert War in the following year’s Ranvet Stakes.
“I was riding a lot for Gai before I went to England in 2007. I was doing the bulk of the riding for Tulloch Lodge for an 18-month period,” Bowman said.
“In that time we won the Flight Stakes with Cheeky Choice, we won the Ranvet, I ran third in the (2007) Slipper on Meurice but I haven’t ridden a lot for the stable in the last few years.”
Farnan roared into Slipper calculations when he backed up a dominant Silver Slipper victory with a professional win in the Todman Stakes, a lead-up race Waterhouse has used with great success in the past.
He lost his spot at the top of markets when he came up with barrier 14 but punters have subsequently rallied and on Thursday he re-assumed favouritism at $4.80 in Golden Slipper odds.
The past two winners of the Golden Slipper, Kiamichi and Estijaab, have jumped from the same gate and like many punters, Bowman does not expect a wide draw to impact on Farnan’s chances.
“I’m not concerned about him being too precocious or trying to make him settle because he’s got natural pace and he’s got an excellent temperament,” Bowman said.
“He’s got the versatility required and it’s that versatility that probably helps negate the awkward draw.”
Cellsabeel was on Thursday scratched from the Golden Slipper on the advice of vets with unbeaten Victorian Minhaaj, a $14 chance, promoted into the field.