Big day for Bowen, Okada
MORE than two dozen trainers share the Ballina Racecourse but through this season Danny Bowen’s has always appeared the dominant stable.
At today’s Ballina Bracelet meeting it could become official.
The eight-race card is the last on the calendar for the BJC for the 2009-10 season – which ends on July 31 – and Bowen and his team are set to scoop the premierships.
If Motoki Okada can ride a double today he will pass Ben Looker as the leading apprentice at the track for the season and join Bowen, his retired stable jockey Darron Coleman, and old galloper Secret Savings atop the Ballina Jockey Club premiership tables.
It will be a first for Okada if he steers two gallopers home today, but it is believed that just one winner would claim him the apprentice’s title because he has ridden more places than Grafton-based Looker.
Bowen, who collected his first Ballina premiership last season, will be over the moon to receive these accolades, but he will be quick to deflect the praise on to his Japanese apprentice.
“He’d be rapt, and I’d be rapt for him,” Bowen said.
“Moto has been lying dormant for a long time, people have just started to realise he has a bit of ability.”
Shy and unassuming, Okada is just starting to find his feet after moving to Australia as a teenager to pursue his dream.
“He is starting to stand up for himself and not be pushed around,” Bowen said.
“Before, he would sit three wide and let the better jockeys dictate to him – he now knows that the shortest way home is along the fence.”
Okada’s six wins at Ballina have him third among all jockeys; Darron Coleman’s 11 has that title sewn up.
In the race for the horse’s title only the Leo Clapham-trained Rebels can steal it from Special Savings – if Rebels wins the Benchmark 65 today it will join Bowen’s galloper with three wins and a third for the season.
Special Savings has recently been transferred from the Bowen camp to Ian Jackson at Bundaberg – but not before time.
In September 2007 the five-year-old was sent to Ballina to win a maiden, but in an amazing feat by horse and trainer Special Savings has been in work ever since, winning seven races and having at least one run every month bar two.
Danny Bowen’s disciples have had a strong year but the man himself has steered the ship.
After more than two decades in the game, Bowen is also set to collect his first Northern Rivers Racing Association premiership.
His 35 wins are five clear of Brett Bellamy with four meetings to race.
“We’ve been here a long time and run plenty of seconds to Bill Pholi,” Bowen said.
“It would be great to get one and we are so close now that it would hurt to get knocked off in the last stride.”
The racing gods can be cruel, but if they have any heart at all Okada will ride his double today, Rebels will fail for Clapham, and Bellamy will win fewer races than Bowen does over the final eight days of the season.