One of Sydney’s champion jockeys Hugh Bowman gets a chance at a fifth Golden Rose Stakes winning ride this weekend jumping aboard the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained El Divino in the classic.
A below-capacity field of 14 three-year-olds is engaged to face off in Saturday’s $1 million Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m).
Two hail from the Tulloch Lodge stables of Waterhouse & Bott who saddle-up recent The Rosebud winner Thronum from a wide barrier 13 draw and El Divino drawn a treat in gate four.
Co-trainer Waterhouse has had 18 previous Golden Rose runners over the years for three seconds and three thirds, but is yet to add the winning trophy to her collection.
Bowman meanwhile is the race’s most successful hoop guiding four Golden Rose winners to victory in under two decades with: In Top Swing (2003), Doonan (2004), Duporth (2008) and most recently Hallowed Crown (2014).
This season he retains the ride on Snitzel colt El Divino who he rode for a fourth to Astern in the Group 2 The Run To The Rose (1200m) at the track a fortnight back.
One of two in the Golden Rose field for John O’Shea, the Godolphin-raced Astern chases the Run To The Rose – Golden Rose double achieved twice in the past two years including by stablemate Exosphere (2015) 12 months ago.
Chris Waller’s Zoustar (2013) meanwhile came off a fourth in the Run To The Rose before his Golden Rose Stakes win three years ago, the exact form El Divino brings into this year’s Group 1.
The latest Golden Rose Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have Waller’s Silver Shadow Stakes winning filly Omei Sword as the firming $3.50 favourite followed by Astern ($3.80).
El Divino represents tremendous value at $16 off the right form-line in what Bowman believes is a wide-open race.
“I think it’s an open race this year,” he told Racenet.
“They are an outstanding group of colts and Omei Sword adds another dimension to the race.
“[The] Run To The Rose is obviously the best form race.
“When they walked into the yard for the Run To The Rose it was like we’d been playing park footy all season and then all of a sudden the first graders we’re back on the scene.
“It was quite eerie watching them all come out together.”
Despite tipping Astern as the obvious danger in the Golden Rose Stakes this year, Bowman doesn’t believe punters should be too concerned about the nearly four length margin that horse had over his in The Run To The Rose over 200m shorter than Saturday’s rematch.
“[Run To The Rose runner-up] Star Turn and Astern cleared out the other day with a bit of pack finish behind them,” he explained.
“That to me says they’re a pretty even lot going into Saturday.
“Star Turn isn’t racing and Astern’s win was hard to ignore.
“I’ve ridden Astern, he’s an excellent colt and clearly come back a better horse but from an opposition point of view I’m a bit suspicious about him running a strong 1400 [metres].
“That may or may not be a chink in his armour.”
“I’m certain my horse El Divino will have improved from his first-up run.
“I haven’t been on his back since his run in the Run To The Rose but I’m really looking forward to riding him Saturday.
“I think if he’s on top of the ground you’ll see a better horse on Saturday.”
Waterhouse as usual is full of pre-race confidence and said El Divino had taken excellent improvement out of his last run.
“[He] has done a treat and come on in leaps and bounds,” she said.
Check out the full Golden Rose 2016 odds online now at Ladbrokes.com.au and back your favourites at the right price at the home of Odds Boost (T&Cs apply).