Hugh Bowman is reuniting with equine friends of varying vintages in the Centenary Vase on Sunday and the remaining legs of this season’s Classic Series.
Bowman rides Caspar Fownes-trained Senor Toba over 1,800m at Group Three level this weekend. Senor Toba raced six times in Australia before he swapped Chris Waller’s Rosehill stable for Fownes’ Sha Tin yard, and Bowman was the Toronado gelding’s jockey in two of his most impressive pre-import starts.
“I rode him in Brisbane and I rode him in Sydney,” said Bowman of Senor Toba, whose two wins from his 11 Hong Kong runs include his two-length success in last term’s Group Three Queen Mother Memorial Cup (2,400m).
“I rode him in the Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm and a Randwick lead-up race, so I’m familiar with Senor Toba. Sunday’s race is a good race for him.”
Look at the grey go!— 7HorseRacing 🐎 (@7horseracing) April 24, 2021
Senor Toba with a big win in the Frank Packer Plate. pic.twitter.com/GOEmSlCynh
Senor Toba, who won the Group Three Frank Packer Plate (2,000m) at Randwick before he finished a nose second to Waller stablemate Kukeracha in the Group One Queensland Derby (2,400m) at Eagle Farm, is one of only six gallopers engaged in the Centenary Vase.
Many more runners will contest the second and third legs of this season’s Classic Series – the Classic Cup (1,800m) on February 26 and the Hong Kong Derby (2,000m) on March 19 – with Bowman indicating he will reunite with Frankie Lor Fu-chuen-prepared Sword Point for those events.
Sword Point, whom Waller also saddled in Australia, catapulted himself into Classic Series calculations when, on his third Hong Kong start, he won a Class Three race over 1,800m under Bowman on January 8.
However, with the shorter Classic Mile trip not in Sword Point’s favour, Bowman chose to partner Fownes-trained Viva Chaleur in last weekend’s slowly run HK$12 million feature.
Whereas Viva Chaleur occupied a double-digit spot throughout the Classic Mile, eventually finishing 12th of 14, Sword Point ended sixth under Derek Leung Ka-chun despite suffering interference in the incident that prompted Jockey Club stewards to issue Cordyceps Six’s jockey, Alexis Badel, with a two-meeting suspension for careless riding.
Rated 84, Sword Point is the joint seventh highest-rated holder of a Derby entry, and Bowman knows how it feels to win the final leg of the Classic Series aboard a Lor-trained galloper because they combined to good effect with Furore in 2019.
Furore was Bowman’s second Hong Kong Derby winner in the space of four seasons. Bowman struck up a superb association with John Moore-prepared Werther over a three-year period, and the 2016 Derby was one of the five races they won as a combination.
Fownes has entered Viva Chaleur, whose overseas form includes a Group One second placing in the 2021 Prix Morny (1,200m) at Deauville, in a Class Three contest over 1,650m at Happy Valley on Wednesday.