Winx swoop so silky Hugh Bowman ‘can’t feel it’

Source: The Australian /

Hugh Bowman says the thing with Winx is that he cannot really tell the difference between cruise control and going like the clappers. Her transition from a dawdle out of the gates to the trademark swoop for home is so smooth that it’s barely noticeable to him. “I can’t feel it,” Bowman tells The Australian. “When I’m on another horse I can feel when it starts going through the gears.

“They take off and you’re very aware of the change in effort and how hard they’re working. But I can’t really tell when that ­moment comes on Winx.

“That’s how comfortable the ride is. I can’t really tell how fast we’re going until I see how slow the others are going by comparison.

“They’re pancaked with a hundred metres to go and she’s cruising past them in third or fourth gear. When she takes off and you hear the crowd go with her, there’s been no better feeling than that.”

Winx chases her 33rd straight win at Royal Randwick on Saturday. She’s likely to have been pursuing a 34th consecutive triumph without trainer Chris Waller’s decision to withdraw her from last year’s Apollo Stakes. The jockey had been unavailable due to suspension and so Waller decided if there was no Bowman, there’d be no Winx. His verdict has sealed the importance of Bowman’s role in concert with the singular brilliance of the horse.

“Was I humbled by Chris’s decision? Definitely,” Bowman says. “I think if it was at a different stage of the preparation, things might have been different.

 “But the fact it was a first-up run, it was a stepping stone to where her preparation was heading, I think Chris just assessed the situation and thought, ‘I don’t need to race her to get her ready’.

“It was actually very humbling and it showed how much respect they had for Winx and I as a partnership.

“When I say they, I mean Chris as a trainer and the owners’ group. There’s really not much more I can say about that but yes, I was humbled that they thought of the partnership in that way.

“I received my suspension and after a couple of days Chris said, ‘You know what, I might just not run her’.

“How I would have felt about another jockey getting to ride her … it’s a difficult thing to answer because it didn’t happen. I know I would have been fine with it.

“There’s been other people to ride her and win on her.

“It would have been interesting, to be honest.

“It’d been a long time since someone else rode her so it would have been lovely to get some feedback from other riders who have ridden some other very good horses.

“I would have been more than OK with it. I might have gone along to watch because if there’s been one thing I haven’t been able to do, it’s been experience it from the other side of the fence.”