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Bowman Sha Tin Trophy masterclass on California Spangle caps four-timer

October 16, 2023 at 4:08:03 AM

Hugh Bowman crowned an outstanding display – and sealed a quartet – at Sha Tin on Sunday (15 October) with a masterful ride on California Spangle in the G2 Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m) to lay the foundations for Tony Cruz’s classy galloper’s defence of the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) on 10 December.

Hugh Bowman crowned an outstanding display – and sealed a quartet – at Sha Tin on Sunday (15 October) with a masterful ride on California Spangle in the G2 Sha Tin Trophy Handicap (1600m) to lay the foundations for Tony Cruz’s classy galloper’s defence of the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) on 10 December.

Bowman’s precise front-running ride allowed California Spangle to become the first horse since Beauty Generation in 2017 and 2018 to post successive Sha Tin Trophy victories, while Cruz secured his third win in the first Group 2 contest of the season after California Memory’s 2011 triumph.

Oozing confidence after dominating the undercard with wins aboard David Hall pair Kyrus Unicorn and Summit Cheers and also Noble Pursuit for Caspar Fownes, Bowman reserved his best ride for the afternoon’s feature.

Taken immediately to the lead from the outside barrier (gate 10), California Spangle (135lb) sauntered through the first 800m in 48.54s before Bowman gradually increased the tempo to clock 45.64s for the closing 800m to defeat Encountered (117lb) by half a length with a similar margin to Beauty Eternal (123lb) in an overall time of 1m 34.18s.

Bowman, who inherited the California Spangle ride from Zac Purton after the six-time Hong Kong champion’s decision to partner Beauty Eternal, was lauded by Cruz.

“Hugh Bowman is a top-class jockey. The horse showed his class today and the jockey rode a perfect race,” Cruz said. “After the second trial, California Spangle seemed to be going very badly but he came on after that trial. That was the big difference.

“He’s always been the star horse in my stable – he’s the only star horse in my stable at the moment – and Hugh Bowman will be riding him in the races ahead.”

Those assignments include the G2 BOCHK Private Wealth Jockey Club Mile (1600m) on 19 November and the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile.

Now the winner of 11 of 19 starts, California Spangle’s classy display was the high point of Bowman’s day and capped an eventful week for the Australian, who drew a two-day suspension at Happy Valley last Wednesday (11 October) and a further three-day ban at The Everest meeting at Randwick on Saturday (14 October).

Those travails faded as Bowman joined forces with Cruz’s banner horse.

“I was just concentrating on my horse and his rhythm. He’s a free-rolling type and I was surprised there wasn’t a little more pressure during the early stages, but it wasn’t in my interests to go too strong anyway,” he said.

“There wasn’t a lot of pressure and with the impost of 135 pounds and that helped him at the business end of proceedings. I was confident of a big performance today – win, lose or draw – and he hasn’t disappointed.”

Reflecting on his day, Bowman said: “I had a nice book of rides. I didn’t have any stand outs but I started off on a good note with Kyrus Unicorn. He trialled really well at the Valley and it didn’t surprise me to see him perform like that at this grade. Summit Cheers was outstanding and Noble Pursuit was outstanding last start.

“Unfortunately, I made an error of judgement (careless riding) in Sydney yesterday and that’s cost me a few meetings here but it’s no good dwelling on it. I mean, I should be a bit more mature than that but, look, it is what it is. Fair’s fair, so I’ll serve my suspension after next Sunday. I’ve got a big week ahead, so I’ll focus on that.”

Bowman and Hall combined with Kyrus Unicorn in a victory Hall attributed to “the class factor.” Rated 85 after winning twice in Ireland for Dermot Weld, the grey prevailed today as a 39-rater at his 36th Hong Kong appearance.

Bowman and Hall sealed a race-to-race double when Summit Cheers swept to victory in the Class 4 Shek Mun Handicap (1000m) before Pierre Ng-trained I Give posted his third win this season over the 1200m Sha Tin course under Andrea Atzeni.

Bowman continued the spree aboard Fownes-trained Noble Pursuit, a Savabeel four-year-old having only his third start before elevating with California Spangle’s success and building a slender lead over Purton – 17-16 – in the jockeys’ championship.

Ensued made an impressive debut with victory in the Class 3 Sha Kok Handicap (1800m) under Purton to provide 12-time Hong Kong champion trainer John Size with his first success of the term – and collect a PP Bonus of HK$1.5 million.

Bred in the United States of America, Ensued placed twice in England for James Fanshawe and was too strong today first-up over 1800m, suggesting a BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) tilt might be within the three-year-old’s grasp.

Lucky Encounter validated trainer David Hayes’ lofty opinion of the Epaulette gelding with his fourth win from six starts under Karis Teetan as Leslie gave Michael Chang’s stable its second success of the campaign when Angus Chung drove the gelding to a narrow win over Always Fluke.

Ng and Purton teamed with Taj Dragon as the Mehmas gelding surged to an impressive win in the Class 3 Mei Tin Handicap (1400m) before Atzeni finished the day with a brace aboard Frankie Lor’s Lucky With You in the Class 2 Lek Yuen Handicap (1200m).

Hong Kong racing continues at Happy Valley on Wednesday night (18 October).

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