Bowman bullish in pursuit of fifth Queen Elizabeth

Champion jockey Hugh Bowman has experienced the hype and coped with the pressure previously going into the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday – but this time it’s different.

Bowman was the focus of attention when he rode the mighty mare Winx to her three successive wins in the big race, most notably her famous farewell triumph in 2019 when she raced into retirement with her 33rd consecutive win before a bumper Randwick crowd of more than 43,000 .

But when Winx was racing, there was an air of inevitability about the result. She was a supreme champion and simply too good for her opposition.

THE ARMCHAIR PUNTER’S QUEEN ELIZABETH RUNNER-BY-RUNNER ANALYSIS

This is not the case on Saturday.

The field for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Day 2 of The Championships is one of the best ever, with opinions evenly divided about the likely outcome.

Sydney’s feature autumn carnival weight-for-age race has been among the nation’s top two rated races for six years but the race has never had such depth of quality and lives up to its billing as the “Grand Finals of Australian racing”.

“The Queen Elizabeth Stakes was tagged as the signature race of the autumn carnival when The Championships were invented (in 2014),” Bowman said.

“It is certainly living up to that expectation this year.

“This is a superb race, a high-class field – it is going to be fantastic.”

The Queen Elizabeth Stakes field boasts the reigning Horse of the Year Verry Elleegant, winner of the George Main Stakes, Melbourne Cup and Chipping Norton Stakes at Group 1 level this season.

Her eight opponents have also had success at a high level this season and include Zaaki (Underwood Stakes, Mackinnon Stakes, All Star Mile), Think It Over (Chelmsford Stakes, Hill Stakes, Craven Plate, Rosehill Gold Cup, Apollo Stakes), Duais (Australian Cup, Tancred Stakes), I’m Thunderstruck (Toorak Handicap, Golden Eagle), Anamoe (Caulfield Guineas, Rosehill Guineas) and Bowman’s mount Montefilia (The Metropolitan, Ranvet Stakes).

Bowman is chasing a fifth win in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on Montefilia on Saturday.

The champion jockey partnered Winx to her three-peat in 2017-18-19 and also won the race on Reliable Man (2013).

Montefilia is one of seven individual Group 1 winners in the nine-horse field. She will start from barrier two and is rated at $9 in early betting behind Verry Elleegant at $3.

Bowman on board Winx in the 2019 Queen Elizabeth Stakes in front of a massive crowd. Picture: Getty Images

Bowman knows Monterfilia well, having ridden the underrated mare to a Group 1 success in The Metropolitan last spring.

The underrated Montefilia, trained by David Payne, goes into the Queen Elizabeth Stakes off her impressive win over Verry Elleegant in the Ranvet Stakes.

“She has had a fantastic preparation and is in great form,” Bowman said.

THE ARMCHAIR PUNTER’S QUEEN ELIZABETH RUNNER-BY-RUNNER ANALYSIS

“Personally, I feel she is at her best at 2000m and that was on display in a dominant victory in the Ranvet Stakes.

“They are going to know she is in this race anyway but if she can bounce off that Ranvet win she is going to be right in it.”

Bowman conceded the sheer quality of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes field made it difficult to nominate a main danger to Montefilia.

“I think Zaaki is the one for me,” Bowman said.

“But I have a lot of respect for Verry Elleegant because she is a champion.

“Anamoe is the new kid on the block and I have had a bit to do with Duais and she is a top class mare.

“Think It Over is another quality horse but if the rain comes it does negate his best assets.

“But every horse deserves to be in this race, I respect them all.”

Bowman, a Hall of Fame jockey with 102 career Group 1 wins including 97 majors in Australia, has a powerful book of rides on Day 2 of The Championships.

His big-race rides include The Chosen One, the tough New Zealand stayer trained by Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, who is lining up in his third successive Group 1 $2m Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m).

The Chosen One ran second to Etah James in the 2020 Sydney Cup then Bowman rode the horse last year when sixth to Selino.

Bowman was back in the saddle on The Chosen One last week when the stayer ran third to Duais in the Tancred Stakes at Newcastle.

“His run was great at Newcastle,” Bowman said.

“With clear room at the top of the lane he would have run second.

“I feel he is in better shape this year than compared to last year when I also rode him in the Tancred Stakes and Sydney Cup. It was nice to see him draw barrier five for Saturday and not the outside barrier like last year.”

Sydney Racing

Montefilia beating Verry Elleegant in the Ranvet Stakes. Picture: Getty Images

The Chosen One, who ran a very good fifth in Verry Elleegant’s Melbourne Cup last spring, is the number one saddlecloth bearer with 56kg and is conceding between 4.5kg to 6kg to the remaining 18 starters in the race.

“He has to give weight for this entire field but he is also a horse who has bred very well with this sort of weight in these types of races,” Bowman said.

“Not that I could ride anything else in this race but I wouldn’t swap him for any other horse.”

Bowman has the opportunity to win a record-equaling sixth Group 1 $1m ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) on Godolphin’s promising filly Honeycreeper.

The James Cummings-trained Honeycreeper burst into Oaks contention with her impressive win in the Adrian Knox Stakes last Saturday.

IN-DEPTH AUSTRALIAN OAKS RUNNER-BY-RUNNER ANALYSIS

“Honeycreeper does look hard to beat,” Bowman said.

“This is an open race and she is taking on horses that have raced at a higher level than her but there is a sense of timing about her.

“She was dominant last Saturday, I can’t see her going backwards and the 2400m, I think she will ‘eat’ it.”

Bowman’s other Group 1 ride is the John O’Shea-trained Promise Of Success in the $1 million Queen of the Turf Stakes (1600m).

Promise Of Success goes to Randwick after her good win in the Emancipation Stakes at Newcastle last week.

“She is another mare with a real sense of timing about her going into the Queen of the Turf Stakes,” Bowman said.

“This is going to be another good race, plenty of chances, but she is right in it. This is going to be a great raceday, it will be a privilege to be riding there on Saturday.”

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