It's probably like driving a V8 and then jumping on a push bike, but Hugh Bowman produced his best to pedal Potent Force to victory in the second on Sunday.
Less than 24 hours after guiding Winx to a world record 23rd Group 1 win - the mighty mare's 31st straight victory - at Randwick on Saturday, Bowman returned to where it all began at the Mudgee Race Course and piloted Mack Griffith's five-year-old brown gelding to a narrow win in the $30,000 Lion Class 1 and Maiden Showcase Plate (1600m)
From Dunedoo, an hour north of Mudgee, Bowman returned to the mid-west on Sunday to ride in the Central District Racing Association country championship heat but managed to pick up a winner in his first race of the afternoon with Potent Force.
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Bowman left the region for greener pastures in the racing industry and returns as the best jockey in the world.
The 38-year-old said coming back was about acknowledging the Mudgee region and its surrounds for the part they played in his journey to the top.
“I had my first ever professional race ride here in Mudgee and I think the country championship is a great initiative by Racing NSW and it’s something I really want to do but it’s hard with my schedule to be able to do it," Bowman said.
“It fit in this year and it’s great to be here ... I can’t remember how long it’s been since I've been here, to be honest. Time does fly.
“It’s good to be back and riding here and good to get one of the board."
Jumping as the $1.80 favourite, Bowman and Potent Force battled with Mathew Cahill on board Cameron Crockett's Christo ($2.80) over the final furlong and the pair bumped about 100 metres from the finishing post.
The least I can do is come back and show my support to the community that helped me be the person I am.Champion jockey Hugh Bowman.
That contact, Bowman believes, helped lift Potent Force to victory, albeit a narrow one. The official margin was a neck.
“It was close. He traveled well in the run and he looked like he was going to win easily but he probably isn’t the bravest horse I’ve ever ridden, to be honest," Bowman said.
“He’s had a bit of a think about it. But Mathew and I bumped each other slightly and I think that helped him refocus."
In between posing for pictures with the bumper crowd on deck for Mudgee's chance to host one of seven country championship heats, Bowman was booked for rides with Mack Griffith (Potent Force and Opening Stanza) Cameron Crockett (Kingsbridge and championship contender Ori On Fire) and for Bowman family-owned horse Free Ticket, a mare trained out of Gulgong with Emma Gill.
“I’ve ridden for Mack for a long time, since his Scone days and obviously Cameron Crockett I ride for regularly in Sydney when he comes down," Bowman added.
“Des Kennedy of course, I’m riding Ori On Fire, I’ve ridden his horses since I was an apprentice.
“But it’s more so to come back to the community and give a little bit back. I’m aware of the publicity that’s driven by me being here and that means a lot to me.
"The least I can do is come back and show my support to the community that helped me be the person I am.”