Jockey Hugh Bowman is full of confidence heading into the Thousand Guineas 2016 where he will partner Chris Waller’s firm favourite Foxplay.
Two years ago the top hoop rode Amicus (2014) to victory in the mile classic for Waller and he returns on Saturday with another livewire hope in the $500,000 Group 1 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m).
Foxwedge filly Foxplay is the $3.10 favourite in the latest Thousand Guineas odds at Ladbrokes.com.au to win her Melbourne and Group 1 debut on the back of some strong Sydney form.
“Lining up the Melbourne fillies against the Sydney fillies, my gut feeling is the Sydney fillies are probably better but I don’t really know that,” Bowman told Racing Victoria.
“The only question mark with her is being a lightly-raced young horse coming to Melbourne for the first time she is going to need to adapt to the Caulfield track.”
A winner of three of her four latest starts and her opening two as a three-year-old this time in, Foxplay comes off a winning Randwick double with Bowman aboard for the Group 2 Furious Stakes (1200m) and Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) victories.
Waller opted to save the stunning grey for the Thousand Guineas bid over a run in last weekend’s Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) at home.
Helping Foxplay get around the Caulfield track is a gun barrier five draw, which has produced two of the past six Thousand Guineas winners.
“She has drawn a nice marble, from barrier five she ought to get a good run and she is pretty straightforward and although I wouldn’t be as confident as I am with Winx I still have an air of confidence about her too,” Bowman said, indicating the all-too-easy win he is likely to enjoy aboard Australia’s best horse Winx who faces just two rivals in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on Saturday.
Bowman rode Winx, who shoots for her 12th win on the trot this Saturday, in a Caulfield workout on Wednesday morning leaving Craig Newitt to put Foxplay through her paces at the track.
He was full of post-gallop praise for the Thousand Guineas top fancy, especially impressed with her power and stride despite her size.
“She is deceiving, looking at her she is quite small but when you get on her back she has a very large stride,” he said.
“She covers a lot of ground and we weren’t even out to do much.
“Whoever beats her on Saturday will be winning the Thousand Guineas.”
Foxplay is easing in the Thousand Guineas markets out from her opening quote of $3.10, while money is coming in for Gai Waterhouse’s Flight Stakes winner from last Saturday Global Glamour ($5 into $4.40).
That suits Bowman who believes Foxplay has been underrated for some time with the likes of Winx and the out-with-injury Omei Sword stealing the spotlight in the Waller stable.
“She has snuck in under the radar a little bit, not that I had much to do with her before I won on her two starts ago but I was very impressed with her winning the Tea Rose the other day and she comes down here with very good form,” he said.
Waller also has plenty of good things to say about Foxplay who he believes has earned her shot at an elite level title in Melbourne.
“She has earned her stripes herself, she has recorded two impressive wins this preparation at Group 2 level,” the master horseman said.
“She now steps up to the Group 1 against the fillies so she is a good pony to bring along to the track this morning and they are great mates.
“They travel down together, they are next to each other at the stables so hopefully they are celebrating together on Saturday night.
“She is a very tough filly, not an overly big girl but full of heart.”
To back Foxplay at the right price head to Ladbrokes.com.au now who are also offering the best Ladbrokes Caulfield Stakes offer on Winx (T&Cs apply).