Top Sydney-based hoop Hugh Bowman will make the trip to the Top End on Monday to partner the Gary Clarke-trained Darwin Cup 2015 favourite Lightinthenite at Fannie Bay.
There are currently 24 stayers nominated for this year’s $200,000 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup (2000m), early odds at Ladbrokes.com.au on the lucrative handicap clash led by veteran galloper Lightinthenite.
A rising eight-year-old, the Galileo gelding is locally trained but from 32 starts has had just three at the track for one win and a second.
The victory came last time out when Lightinthenite improved on his disappointing spring form from last time in to win the Chief Minister’s Cup (1600m) first-up on July 11.
Ridden by Paul Shiers, the horse carried 61kg to victory over the mile that day and is set to appreciate the step up in distance on Monday as well as the drop back to 60kg.
Another plus for the current $3.60 top fancy in the all-in Darwin Cup odds is the change of jockeys with 43-time Group 1 winning hoop Bowman travelling for the ride.
Thirty-five-year-old Bowman is good friends with Lightinthenite’s part-owner Mick Burns who races horses in partnership with Chief Minister Adam Giles along with prominent businessmen John ‘Foxy’ Robinson, Brooke David and Justin Coleman.
He’s up in the NT for the Darwin Cup Carnival as a favour for Burns and along with the Darwin Cup top fancy he also rides outside chance, the Tony McEvoy-trained Underestimation in Saturday’s $135,000 Palmerston Sprint (1200m).
“I’m on Tony McEvoy’s horse in the Sprint and Lightinthenite in the Cup, and they’re both good chances,” Bowman told the NT News.
“Lightinthenite is certainly a chance and though I haven’t seen the other one in the Sprint, they’ve had the race pencilled in for quite some time.
“So I’m assuming Tony’s got the right type of horse for the 1200m journey and has him primed to go in the race.”
Bowman is no stranger to Fannie Bay Racecourse, but hasn’t ridden at the track in half a decade and hopes for his mate’s sake he’s got the magic touch up there over the Carnival.
“I was up there in 2010 and about 2001 and got on a few winners,” he said.
“Burnsy is a good mate of mine and a part owner of both of them, so it will be good to win the Cup for my mate and the rest of them.”
If successful, it will be a dream come true for Burns who first told Bowman he’d get him on a winning Darwin Cup chance three years ago when the pair first met at a race meeting at Alice Springs.
“He told me he’d love to ride for me in the Cup one year and it’s happened this year with Lightinthenite and that’s great,” Burns said.
“And he’s at the top of his game right now after winning nine Group 1 winners in the last year and the nearest rider to him is six.
“He’s a great bloke and a great jockey and I think it’s good for racing if we get people like that coming up to Darwin.
“There are a lot of southern racing people coming up and Hugh knows he’ll get some good old fashioned Territory hospitality while he’s here.”
Burns is also confident the bookies have it right saying he had his horse primed for a big run over the 2000m.
“He’s getting a bit old and we knew he’d only have two races here — the Chief Ministers and the Cup, so hopefully he’ll deliver on Monday,” the trainer said.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for the 2015 Darwin Cup field and barriers out on Thursday, odds open now online at Ladbrokes.com.au where quoting the code BETBONUS will see your first deposit matched dollar for dollar up to $500 as a bonus bet on the house!