No more Winx, so what is Hugh’s new obsession?
Champion jockey Hugh Bowman, who demonstrated his sublime skills in the saddle with a five-timer at Randwick's Kensington meeting last Saturday, is being driven by a rare achievement - to ride 100 Group 1 winners.
Bowman has 95 career majors and is poised to become only the fourth jockey to join the racing's "century club".
A recently revised list of Group 1 winners has the late George Moore with 126, Damien Oliver has ridden 119 and counting, while Jim Cassidy retired on 104.
Bowman comes in next followed by former great Shane Dye on 92 while the late Roy Higgins's tally has been amended to 90.
"I'm focused on 100 Group 1 wins, that is my goal now,'' Bowman said.
The Hall of Fame jockey doesn't turn 40 until July so he has time on his side and he showed on Saturday that he is still riding as well as ever with a masterclass at the Kensington meeting, riding five winners on Yonkers, Rocha Clock, Dirty Work, Hightail and Phaistos.
Bowman has now ridden 46 city winners for 2019-20 and although he concedes another Sydney premiership is out of reach, he is determined to maintain his form surge after a forgettable first half of the season.
"I came off a two-month break last winter and I was just getting some momentum when I fractured my finger,'' Bowman said.
"Then I had a dreadful run in summer, I just couldn't get going, but from January I think I've been riding well and I'm delighted with my overall season.''
Bowman said his five winners last Saturday equalled his best result at a race meeting.
"I've ridden five winners once before in the city when I was just out of my apprenticeship,'' he said.
"It was one of those days, the conditions were difficult but it suited my horses.''
Bowman said he intends to continue riding in Sydney through winter although he is hopeful interstate travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic might be relaxed in time for him to ride at the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap meeting at Eagle Farm in June.
Rocha Clock produced the best closing 600m sectional of the day in her last-to-first effort to win at the Kensington meeting.
The promising John O'Shea-trained filly recorded a brilliant 33.40s to run down her older rivals.
Fituese, trained by John Thompson, settled on speed and sprinted clear for a very impressive comeback win, recording the second-best closing split of 33.45s.
The juvenile race won by the unbeaten Macroura is likely to prove a strong form race with the first four over the line breaking 34s for the final 600m including the unlucky fourth placegetter Ballistic Lover who ran out of room late but her sectional split of 33.48s was the best sectional split of the race.
WALLER CRACKS $40M AGAIN
Sydney's premier trainer Chris Waller smashed the $40 million prizemoney barrier for the second successive year when Toffee Tongue won the Group 1 Australasian Oaks at Morphettville last Saturday.
Waller is the only trainer to achieve the prizemoney feat and he was able to do this season without mighty mare Winx, the stable mainstay for four seasons.
With just under three months of the season remaining and the reduced stakes money on offer in Brisbane this winter carnival, Waller is likely to struggle to break his national prizemoney record set last season of $43.76 million set last season.
But Toffee Tongue did provide Waller with a ninth Group 1 win this season, ensuring he will be the nation's most successful big-race trainer for the eighth successive year.
BABIES TAKE EARLY RETIREMENT
Racing's golden generation of three-year-olds has been decimated by retirements.
Castelvecchio and Alabama Express, both Group 1 winners this season, were the latest to be retired to stud late last week.
This came after the retirements of Group 1 winners Super Seth, Exceedance and Microphone, and The Everest winner Yes Yes Yes.
Kiamichi, winner of the Golden Slipper last season, has also been retired, joining Group 1-winning mares Alizee, In Her Time, I Am Excited, Booker and Invincibella.
Then there were the enduring champs like Happy Clapper, Redzel, Hartnell and Pierata all running their last races this season.
There are also question marks about Sunlight's future after her career-worst run in the Robert Sangster Stakes.
Has there ever been such an exodus of outstanding racing talent in one season?
Originally published as No more Winx, so what is Hugh's new obsession?