Sydney hoops shine at season finale but quality needs to trump quantity
By Max Presnell
July 31, 2022 — 6.00pm
Featured Image: James McDonald acknowledge Getty
Author’s Prelude: I think Max has raised a very important issue here in both Thoroughbred Racing AND Breeding?
With Hugh Bowman a major player, jockeys more than horses stole the show on the season’s final Sydney Saturday, a day which could be in line for an extension.
It is being mentioned that 10 races on Saturday just isn’t enough, with 11 and possibly even 12 being introduced to appease the turnover gods. Apparently figures are not flash midweek, and more action on the biggest punting day of the week is expected to pick up the slack.
From a personal viewpoint seven events, the figure when I kicked off, was too few, eight perfect, nine the extreme and the current 10, introduced on carnival days but too lucrative to drop, too many.
Of course, Saturday form was superior, and how will more events affect quality and field sizes?
Having experienced 16 races on a program in Argentina a day at the races was a marathon rather than a pleasure.
Still, it can be argued racecourse patrons can tailor on-course experience by arriving late and leaving early, a cut back for the enthusiast, again given plenty of evidence at Rosehill on Saturday that the current jockey ranks, with Bowman firing, are very strong indeed.
“He gets the job done and has a will to win,” Bowman declared about Wicklow, one of his successful treble, after the Shelby Sixtysix Handicap.
It also applies to the jockey.
Every win has merit but a Bowman pearl is special, certainly the situation on Pizarro from a wide gate and delivering an elbow in the vicinity of James McDonald (Kalino) around the 700-metre mark in the Thank You Staff.
But the bunker, after studying every possible replay, found “the extended right arm” was not intentional
McDonald, notching his usual double, was very much in the firing line and received a buffeting on Enchanted Heart who should have won the Bill Picken OAM, the former Sydney Turf Club chairman who was approached across a crowded room by Princess Anne on his recent England visit due to an earlier association here.
Taking a split for a very skinny horse, Enchanted Heart ended up third with the stewards after McDonald, who went where wise navigators would fear to tread, lodged a protest. Stewards found that runner-up Siege (Rachel King) was the culprit, and thus the placings were reversed.
With Bowman and McDonald in the spotlight the depth of Sydney riding ranks was again emphasised due to the opposition on Saturday: proven topliners Kerrin McEvoy (Contributingfactor in the Midway) and Jason Collett (Easy Single in the Picken) scored while the judgment and power of Brenton Avdulla was vital on Elusive Jewel (Thank You Owners).
Jan Van Overmeire triumphed in the best race on the program with a slick exhibition on Winter Challenge frontrunner Cross Talk while leading Sydney apprentice Reese Jones ended a strong season on Troach (Precise Air) for Godolphin.
To boost the Sydney riding ranks further apprentice Dylan Gibbons, top of the NSW jockey’s premiership, has been absent from recently but will return next Saturday with the benefit of a 3kg claim in town.