Tag Archive for: James Bowen

Suprise Package rules supreme for Ireland in Imperial Cup

Suprise Package set himself up for a potential Cheltenham bid with victory in the Paddy Power Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle at Sandown.

The six-year-old is in Friday’s County Hurdle and could take up that entry, for which he was halved in price to 10-1 by Paddy Power, after the nine-length success from Lively Citizen. Hacker Des Places and Onemorefortheroad completed the placings.

Sent off at 20-1, James Bowen’s mount travelled well throughout. He was on the bridle approaching the last, and turned the competitive handicap into something of a procession.

Though winless since last April, Suprise Package could make it a quick double should he line up in the County Hurdle, with the forecast set fair next week.

County Kildare trainer Peter Fahey admitted: “I think he would like quicker ground, too. He won a good race at Punchestown last year – the Red Mills Final – and he put in a huge performance that day, and he has just kept on improving.

“It is great for Paul Leech (owner), who has only two horses in the yard with me. Freedom To Dream, who was fourth at Leopardstown in a Grade One, is his other one. He goes for the Martin Pipe, although he needs five or six to come out, but to have two horses running at Cheltenham he is a lucky owner.

“You’d definitely have a bit of confidence from that. I think this lad has physically improved from his last run. I know he was five or six pounds higher today and if he goes to the County Hurdle he will have another five pounds on his back, but he is actually a horse who takes his races very well.

“He will travel to Cheltenham tomorrow morning and we will freshen him up. I’m going home tonight and will come back over on Monday and see where we are from there.

“When the entries came out for Cheltenham, we were thinking about the County hurdle, but we might not get in, so we had a horse tuned up to run there and Paul picked this race and said why sit on the fence, because if you think you are going to run a big race in the County Hurdle, why not come here first.

“I suppose the pity the (£50,000) bonus (for winning the Imperial Cup and a race at Cheltenham) isn’t there this year, but if the horse is right, there’s a chance he will run again.”

He added: “The one think I said to James was don’t rush him across the chase track, because there was some tacky ground and I didn’t want him to force him over that furlong and a half.

“In fairness, he did travel well and when he got on the nicer ground, he picked up and stayed on going away to the line. It was a huge performance.

“He is used to running in those big handicaps and that experience has helped him.”

Victory was particularly sweet for Bowen, who has rarely had much previous luck at Sandown and was celebrating his 21st birthday.

He said: “He travelled well, I was a bit further back than I wanted to be but I just got a smooth run round, which helped me a lot.

“He was ready for today and had that experience in big Irish handicaps, which a lot of them didn’t. It makes a hell of a lot of difference, especially around here.

“It is probably a portent of things to come next week – but I’ll be at Hexham and Sedgefield if you want to watch me there!

“I was a bit surprised how well he travelled, but I was always confident he was going to jump, even if he hadn’t seen the hurdle. He is a hardened handicapper.

“It is my birthday, so it is a good winner. It was a nice way to celebrate. I was still not a fan of Sandown before today, but I am starting to like it a bit more now!”

Mister Fisher proves too good in Silviniaco Conti

Mister Fisher took advantage of a drop in class to land a deserved success in the Coral Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton.

Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old had things easier than on his last visit to the Sunbury track, when he was pulled up in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.

Already a dual course winner, Mister Fisher made it three with a polished performance over the extended two and a half miles.

James Bowen was happy to sit in third place as Rogue Vif and Eldorado Allen set the pace with the only other runner, Defi Du Seuil, last of the four.

Taking closer order in the straight with three fences to jump, Mister Fisher (15-8 favourite) was soon poised to challenge Eldorado Allen after Rouge Vif weakened.

Mister Fisher led approaching the final fence and was not hard pressed to score by a length and three-quarters, earning a 12-1 from 20-1 quote from Betfair for the Ryanair Chase, with Coral going 16-1.

“That was his race. It was made for him form the day it was put in the programme book – except for the ground, because he has always been a little bit vulnerable on sticky ground,” said Henderson.

“I think the ground is tacky, but with Falco (Blitz, winner earlier on the card) and him, we’ve gone wide the whole way which Barney (Clifford, clerk of the course) told me to do about three days ago.

“He was really good, but he is a very good horse. If you remember that last race at Sandown last year, when he looked as if he had got Frodon, and Frodon came back and beat him on the line – that is where he is in life. He is up there in the higher echelons.


“I think two and half miles is probably his trip… I know he ran a good race in the King George because it was his first run of the season and he turned in out of the back straight going really well. You could say, ‘was it stamina? Or was it just the fact it was his first run?’ (that he emptied and was pulled up).

“I wouldn’t be in a rush to go back to three miles. He had a Gold Cup entry, but I think the Ryanair is more realistic really than anything else.

“This was a race made for him. If the Ryanair was on good ground, he will be competitive. Aintree would be next. If there wasn’t anything in between, you’d have him ready for a busy spell. He could do a Cheltenham-Aintree double. He deserves a nice pot like this and he has now got to go and fly in the top flight.

“We think he is top class, always has been. I love him, he is a beautiful horse.”

Supreme Escape is North Yorkshire National hero for Williams and Bowen

Evan Williams was thrilled to see Supreme Escape make the long journey from South Wales worthwhile by claiming top honours in the Vickers.Bet North Yorkshire Grand National.

With a prize fund of almost £31,000 up for grabs, the stamina-sapping contest is the most valuable race of the season at Catterick and racegoers were treated to a cracking renewal in the January sunshine.

Supreme Escape, trained 280 miles away in the Vale of Glamorgan, had been well-beaten in his last two starts, but there was clearly some confidence behind him as he was prominent in the market at 5-1.

Sporting a first-time visor under a cool ride from James Bowen, the Dai Walters-owned eight-year-old powered home from the final obstacle to get up and deny Almazhar Garde by three-quarters of a length.

Williams saddled Billy Bronco to finish second in the 2018 running of this three-mile-six-furlong contest – his only previous runner at Catterick in the last decade.

“It was a very cool ride. James gets on very well with the horse and the visor has been a help, because at times the horse wants to do things his way,” said Williams.

“It’s a race we’ve gone up to in the past and they do such a good job, we try to support all these type of Nationals

“He might get into the Midlands National. He’d stay that trip so I’d say we’ll take a punt on that.”

Trainer Evan Williams
Trainer Evan Williams (Simon Cooper/PA)

Bowen, a previous winner of the Welsh Grand National and Midlands Grand National, was pleased to add the North Yorkshire edition to his CV.

He said of Supreme Escape: “He’s a good candidate for these Nationals and I’m sure he’s got a few more in him.

“I was happy at the top of the straight but got in tight to two out, which probably worried me a little bit. But he’s really quick away from a fence and even when he’s not right, he grabs the bit and takes you to each fence, which always helps.

“Evan doesn’t tell you a lot. He just said ‘do what you want on him’. He’s very easy to ride for and it’s a pleasure to ride for him.”

Mac Tottie enters National frame with Grand Sefton victory

Mac Tottie sparked dreams of a tilt at Grand National glory after enhancing trainer Peter Bowen’s excellent record over the famous fences in the Betway Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree.

The Welsh trainer has saddled four winners of the Topham Chase at the National meeting, with Dunbrody Millar’s 2007 triumph followed by the popular Always Waining’s hat-trick between 2010 and 2012.

Bowen also came close to winning the big one in 2007, with Mckelvey beaten three-quarters of a length by Silver Birch – and in Mac Tottie, he believes he has another contender for the Aintree spectacular.

A well-beaten last of four on his seasonal reappearance at Fontwell early last month, the eight-year-old appeared invigorated by the switch to the National fences, jumping well throughout for the trainer’s son James.

The well-fancied Senior Citizen loomed up looking a big danger on the run-in, but 20-1 shot Mac Tottie dug deep to see him off by a length – with Manwell a further 12 lengths behind in third.

“That was good. It’s the fifth time we’ve won round those fences – it’s been a lucky place for us,” said the winning trainer.

“I have no idea why they seem to take to it. We do a lot of loose schooling, and they seem to find their own way from there.”

Bowen added: “We just missed out in the National with Mckelvey, and hopefully this will end up being a National horse – I think he’ll stay.

“He came here in good form. Things didn’t go quite right for him last time, because he lost a shoe and didn’t really stride out after that.

“He could come back here for the Becher next month, but we’ll see how he is and speak to the owners.”

The winner rider was thrilled to claim his first victory over the National fences, adding his name to the roll of honour in a race his brother Sean has won twice for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

“It’s unbelievable. To do it for my dad makes it extra special,” he said.

“I didn’t miss one fence. He’s only small, but he’s so neat and has got loads of scope.

“I got to the front way too soon, but the loose horse helped me out for a little while, and he probably kept a little bit up his sleeve.

“I’d ride any of dads’ horses over a National fence. It’s nice to come here and have the confidence in them to go and jump.”

James Bowen called up for Secret Reprieve

James Bowen is delighted to have picked up the spare ride on Secret Reprieve in the Randox Grand National.

Evan Williams called up the 20-year-old after it was confirmed regular rider Adam Wedge will remain sidelined by injury next week.

Secret Reprieve announced his potential as a top staying chaser with victory in this season’s Welsh National – the latest edition of a race Bowen also won in January 2018, on Raz De Maree.

“I only got the phone call last night,” he said.

“Evan rang me and asked if I could do the weight (10st 1lb). There were butterflies in my stomach when I got the phone call.

“It’s very exciting and a massive confidence booster that both the owners and trainer want you to ride a horse like that in a race like this.

“I’m very much looking forward to it – and I must thank William and Angela Rucker (owners) for giving me the ride.”

Bowen is hoping for a new personal best in the great race.

He added: “This will be my third (National) ride – I pulled up on Shantou Flyer in 2018 and finished ninth on Outlander in 2019. They were both outsiders, so he is definitely my best chance of winning it – and this is probably his year to have a go.

“Everyone who wins the Grand National is known as a Grand National-winning jockey afterwards.

“It would not just make my year – it would make my life.”