HUGH Bowman will ride at Muswellbrook on Sunday week in a last ditch bid to qualify the highly-promising Noble Boy for the Country Championship Final at Randwick, a race the horse has been favourite for since betting opened.
The Queanbeyan-trained Noble Boy must win or run second in Muswellbrook’s $50,000 Wild Card (1280m) to cement a place in the $500,000 decider at Randwick on April 6.
Noble Boy had been unbeaten in his only first four starts including two Highway Handicaps, one at Rosehill and the other at Warwick Farm, but had no luck when fourth in the Goulburn heat of the championships on March 2.
That left his trainer with no other option than to run him in the Wild Card and Bowman quickly accepted the ride.
Bowman, who won on him at Warwick Farm, had to forgo the ride at Goulburn to ride Winx in the Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick where she scored her 31st consecutive win.
Jess Taylor rode Noble Boy but became the victim of interference early in the race and was shuffled back to third last mid-race.
She took Noble Boy wide in the straight and he made up a huge amount of ground to finish less than two and a half lengths from the winner, Al Mah Haha.
Despite that Noble Boy remained the $5 favourite while Al Mah Haha is one of four horses on the second line of betting at $11.
Blowes said Noble Boy had taken no harm from the run.
“He pulled up well and has progressed since then,” he explained.
“Hugh and I have been talking back and forth for some time and the championship has always been our goal.
“After Goulburn there was never any doubt that Hugh would ride the horse in the Wild Card.”
Blowes, who is the foreman for fellow Queanbeyan trainer Joe Cleary as well as holding a licence in his own right, plans to bring Noble Boy to Muswellbrook on Wednesday and stable him on course.
“I want him to have plenty of time to settle in and get used to the environment up there,” he said.
“This is our last chance to get into the final so I want to make sure I get everything right and having Hugh ride him will be a huge plus.”
Blowes, a former five eighth and centre with the Queanbeyan Blues, was offered Noble Boy by owner Donna Starc after the horse had languished in a paddock, unraced, for 18 months.
“He was broken in and I think he might have had one preparation but he never raced,” he said.
“He came to me a big, strong horse but knew nothing and we had to build him up so his body would furnish out.
“I tried to buy him but Donna would not sell so I brought in some of my footy mates plus my farrier and our work rider and formed a syndicate and we leased him.”
Bowman’s booking for the Wild Card will lift the profile of the race even further as country trainers from throughout the state target the Wild Card as their last chance to get to Randwick.
Two of the horses on the second line of betting, Awesome Pluck and La Scopa, have not yet qualified.
The Matt Dunn-trained La Scopa runs in the Northern Rivers heat at Grafton on Sunday while Port Macquarie trainer Jenny Graham is undecided on whether to start Awesome Pluck in the Wild Card after he finished third in the Port Macquarie heat as the odds-on favourite.
“I’m having a few little issues with Awesome Pluck and I don’t know if I can have him ready in time,” Graham said.
However, she will nominate Let’s Rebelle which she had to scratch from the Port Macquarie qualifier after the horse broke out in hives but recovered to win a Class Four at Coffs Harbour a week later.