Even as a young racing fan in his hometown of Dunedoo, Hugh Bowman dreamed of one day riding in and winning the Melbourne Cup.
While Bowman has since become one of Australia’s leading jockeys and is now preparing for his eighth start in the iconic race, he still dreams of winning the Melbourne Cup.
Since his days of being apprenticed to Bill and Leanne Aspros in Bathurst, making his racing debut aboard Go Campese in the 1996 Mungery Picnic Cup and later than year enjoying his first win when Slatts took out the $3,500 Wellington Cup, Bowman has gone on to notch up 83 Group 1 wins.
His impressive resume includes four consecutive Cox Plate wins aboard champion mare Winx, but the closest he has come to hoisting the Melbourne Cup was a fifth in 2016 with Who Shot Thebarman.
“It’s not foreign territory for me now, it’s as normal for me as it could get,” Bowman said.
“The fact I’ve had experience doing it around the world, riding in big races, riding Winx of course and the amount of expectation with her – this is much more relaxing for me believe it or not,” Bowman revealed.
It’s a race that I haven’t won and a race I dreamed of winning as a child, so obviously it would mean a great deal to me if I could win it. I just dreamed of winning it all my life.Hugh Bowman
“It’s different, it’s definitely different. The amount of emotion and buzz and hype around the whole thing is huge, but it’s something I’m very comfortable with.
“Having ridden in it and other big races around the world, it’s just another major event and I’m very comfortable with the whole process now, whereas when I was younger you know it might have got to me a little bit.”
Bowman made his Melbourne Cup debut in 2009 when riding the Bart Cummings trained Roman Emperor to 21st. He did not get a ride the following year and 12 months later the horse he was to guide – Mourayan – was scratched.
But since then Bowman has become a regular in the 3,200 metres classic. This Tuesday at Flemington he will saddle up aboard English stayer Marmelo, the same horse he guided to ninth in 2017.
He started last year’s race as the $7 equal favourite and led at the top of the straight for Bowman, but he did not have the legs to finish off the job.
Over the last 300 metres the English stayer dropped back through the field to eventually place ninth. He was 9.75 lengths off the pace of victor Rekindling.
This Tuesday the Duke Of Marmalade x Capriolla gelding will hump 55 kilograms – the same as in 2017 – and has drawn barrier 10 for the Group 1 feature. Ten previous winners have come from that spot.
The cup jumps at 3pm.