Bowman keen to build on spring momentum
Having come through his first major carnival since the retirement of Winx, Hugh Bowman is in a good headspace.
For the past couple of seasons, winning major races has almost been a fait accompli for the jockey as he guided Winx to 31 of her 33 consecutive wins, 25 at Group One level.
This year's spring carnival was his first in five years without the superstar mare, and the scrutiny and pressure that came with her.
"I thought I rode well and I really enjoyed it," Bowman said.
"I was much more relaxed than I have been obviously for the past few carnivals, which I enjoyed."
Bowman bagged a couple of majors in Sydney and Melbourne and landed a treble of wins during the Cup carnival at Flemington.
Had he added a Coolmore Stud Stakes win aboard Bivouac, who was narrowly beaten by Exceedance, Bowman reckons it would have been the icing on the cake.
"If I had have won that the carnival would have exceeded expectations," Bowman said.
"I won the Thousand Guineas and the Golden Rose so I'm not complaining but it would have been nice to win another one at Flemington this year.
"But I had three winners and three seconds as well at Flemington during Cup week so I was thereabouts."
This year's spring carnival was held against a backdrop of acrimony between NSW and Victorian racing bodies with Sydney adding several rich new races to its itinerary and challenging Melbourne's spring stranglehold.
Bowman navigated the carnival clashes without fuss but cannot see the logic in two of the country's most prolific racing states butting heads.
"I think it needs tidying up," he said.
"Competition is good but we're trying to angle it at the same market and I just don't see the point.
"I don't know what the answer is but I think it really needs reviewing."
With the final Group One races on the eastern seaboard for the year run and won, racing is entering a softer off-carnival period over the summer.
But far from taking his foot of the pedal, Bowman is focused on putting in the hard yards.
He took an extended break shortly after Winx retired in April and is keen to get back into a rhythm.
"I've had a fair bit of time off so I'm actually going to knuckle down and do a bit of work for the foreseeable future," Bowman said.
"I just want to get back in the groove so that's my plan, to work through the summer."
Bowman was riding in Hong Kong on Sunday ahead of Saturday's stand-alone fixture at Kembla Grange boasting the $1 million The Gong (1600m).
Despite losing major drawcards Happy Clapper to a virus and Le Romain to a bleeding attack, the race is expected to attract a solid field.
Group One winner El Dorado Dreaming is likely to be among the nominations while Chris Waller could have several runners including Mister Sea Wolf, Star Of The Seas and Night's Watch.