Michael Cox



‘A great opportunity, professionally and personally’ – Hugh Bowman is back and open-minded about his future

Star jockey Hugh Bowman says the absence of Joao Moreira and the shifting sands of the Hong Kong jockey ranks make the timing right for a return.

The last time Hugh Bowman rode in Hong Kong on a three-month licence it was 2014 and he was just another star on a jockey roster that featured names like Douglas Whyte, Brett Prebble and a first year phenomenon named Joao Moreira.

Bowman, then 33, had yet to even ride a horse named Winx, a champion mare that would occupy much of his attention for the next four years while she compiled a remarkable 33-race winning sequence.

Times have changed; on the racing front, Winx has long retired and the Hong Kong Jockey Club roster has undergone a huge shift, most notably this season when a hip injury sidelined four-time champion Joao Moreira.

On a personal note, Hugh, now 42, and his wife Christine are parents to two girls, Bambi (9) and Paige (7), and are keen for ‘a change in scenery’.

“It is a great opportunity, professionally and personally,” Bowman told Asian Racing Report.

In regards to Moreira’s absence Bowman said, “I think there is an opportunity there,” although he isn’t expecting the five-time champion Zac Purton to be giving up his spot on the throne anytime soon, “Zac has been talking about retirement for a long time now … I am not counting on that.”

“Bottom line is that I enjoy riding in Hong Kong, and I have had a lot of success there,” Bowman said. “When Christine and I were there for three months, we really enjoyed our time.”


Hugh Bowman celebrates winning the Hong Kong Derby on Furore. (Photo: HKJC).

Bowman rode 13 winners during that season-ending stint in the summer of 2014, and even though he hasn’t ever committed to another long stay, the heavyweight rider has been a popular visitor. He scored Hong Kong Derby wins on Werther (2016) and Furore (2019) alongside a host of big race victories on fly-in missions, including three more G1s on Werther and the 2017 Chairman’s Sprint Prize on Lucky Bubbles. 

The Australian is a highly sought after jockey among some of Hong Kong’s leading trainers including Furore’s handler and reigning champion Frankie Lor, but Bowman said he is yet to commit to any feature race rides. 

“I have a few options that have already been put in front of me, but I haven’t given it much thought, I have been very busy,” he said. “I haven’t got anything locked in.” 

Another key change in the riding landscape in Hong Kong that has played a part in luring  Bowman back is the raising of the weight scale. Bottom weight is now 115 pounds but the key is jockeys riding 122lbs (55.3kg) being able to claim two pounds overweight on horses allocated 120lbs.

Hugh Bowman salutes the crowd after victory aboard Werther in the 2016 Hong Kong Derby. (Photo: HKJC).

Bowman will complete his Australian commitments on Saturday at Newcastle’s feature meeting – he rides Gem Song in The Hunter – before flying overnight to ride at Sha Tin the following day.

A sister school arrangement means Bambi and Paige will continue their education in Hong Kong but Bowman said he hasn’t ruled out a longer term stay in the city.

“The kids are at an age when they can do that so it suits,” he said. “We are in a position where we can keep our options open. Our goal is to go over and enjoy a bit of a change in scenery from Sydney.

“I guess if we are happy and enjoy it, there is an option to stay and we may consider that but it isn’t at the forefront of our mind at all, our plan is to go over for three months and we expect to be coming back.”




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