Winx’s autumn in limbo as Hugh loses appeal
CHRIS Waller faces arguably the toughest decision of his training career after Hugh Bowman failed to have a careless riding ban reduced on appeal on Monday, throwing champion mare Winx's autumn carnival plans into jeopardy.
Bowman, who was represented by lawyer Paul O'Sullivan, was trying to get a seven-meeting careless riding suspension - handed down on Australia Day - reduced by two meetings.
But the Racing NSW Appeals Panel took 30 minutes to dismiss the argument that the level of carelessness on his ride on Tswalu was only low and agreed with stewards that it fell in the medium category.
Waller is open to changing Winx's autumn program and not going to the Apollo Stakes (1400m) on February 17 at Royal Randwick.
Waller may wait for Bowman to resume riding again and send her to the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) first-up at Randwick on March 3.
There's also the possibility of heading to Melbourne and running the Futurity Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 24.
"I'll sure he'll (Waller) have a few options in the back of his mind as far as programming or someone else to ride her," Bowman said.
"It's not the end of the world. Being suspended for careless riding is part and parcel of what we do and for the sake of safety and the fairness of horse racing it is important that we ride with due care."
Keeping her on the Apollo Stakes route is still the most logical plan considering Winx is many lengths ahead of her rivals and with the depth of world-class jockeys in Sydney she'll still win barring bad luck.
Bowman was adamant that if Winx was ridden by another jockey in the Apollo Stakes they'd get the job done and bring up win number 23 in a row on the great mare.
"She's been ridden to victory by other jockeys before," Bowman said.
"I was pleased with her trial (on Monday morning). She closed off really well and she's in good order. As long as she's going well the rest will fall into place.
"Obviously I want to be there but it's not the end of the world."
Bowman hasn't given up the fight yet though and is seriously considering heading to New Zealand on Friday to fight the length of another suspension incurred at Ellerslie on January 27. If he gets that suspension reduced by three meeting he'll be free to ride Winx in the Apollo Stakes. But he's facing an uphill battle.
Bowman's camp was hoping to get the Australia Day suspension reduced by two meetings so he'd only have to get the one in New Zealand reduced by a single meeting.
"If we think our case is strong enough to get the reduction we'll certainly go over to New Zealand to have that case heard," Bowman said.
"We'll canvas our options. We haven't made a firm decision on that at this stage."
Bowman has been the only jockey to ride Winx since her win in the Epsom Handicap 19 starts ago and said it had been a dream run of success.
"I've had three Cox Plates (on her) and with all due respect to the Apollo Stakes it's not the Cox Plate. If you strip it all back it's simply a careless riding suspension and I'm missing a special horse, but it's only one race," he said.
And Bowman's advice to whichever jockey does get the ride on her if he's Friday appeal was unsuccessful and Waller pushed on without him.
"Enjoy the ride," he said.