25 April 2024

Battling Bowen vows to keep pushing title rival Cobden

25 April 2024

Win, lose, or draw, Sean Bowen is determined to take plenty of pride from his jockeys’ championship battle with Harry Cobden, which is set to go right down to the wire.

The 26-year-old had built up a substantial lead before suffering an injury at Aintree on Boxing Day.

His time on the sidelines allowed Cobden the perfect opportunity to gain some serious momentum and by the time the Welshman returned to the saddle in early February, his advantage had been eroded to just four.

Since then, the duo have embarked on a ding-dong battle for weighing room supremacy and although Cobden now holds a slender lead with only the final throngs of the season to come, Bowen can be content with his title-chasing efforts.

“It’s incredible that I have even got within five (at one stage) with the injury I had and I take a good bit of pride in the fact I have got as many winners as I have and have kept fighting to the end,” Bowen said during a media call organised by Great British Racing.

“Whether I win or lose, I haven’t given it up. It’s not impossible and it has been made a bit harder by Harry riding his winners at Taunton (on Wednesday), but there is no need to stop fighting now, there’s only a few days left.

“I’ve made it quite clear, I’m mad about being champion jockey and hopefully I will have a good few days. But if it doesn’t happen, then next year will be just as important and I will be trying to rattle off as many winners as possible, rack up a lead and hopefully not lose that lead next time.”

Bowen’s injury, suffered when taking a nasty fall from Gordon Elliott’s Farren Glory in the Formby Novices’ Hurdle, has ultimately played a crucial role in this season’s championship.

During that time on the sidelines, he had to watch on as Cobden not only ate away at his championship lead but also boot home winners that would invariably have been his own, such as Noble Yeats in the Cleeve Hurdle

However, Bowen is philosophical about his time away from the saddle and having initially thought he would be ruled out for the rest of the season, before the assistance of the Oaksey House rehabilitation centre and Dr Jerry Hill helped him make a rapid recovery, he acknowledges injuries are part and parcel of being a jumps jockey.

Bowen said: “It’s a part of racing and I’m not the first person it has happened to. I had six or seven weeks off, which is a long time in racing, and if I was able to just ride five or six winners over that time, I would be level with Harry.

“There were days where it hurt more than others and that first phone call of Dr Jerry Hill saying I would be out for the rest of the season was not a good day, and there were others as well where I missed big winners, Noble Yeats being one at Cheltenham.

“So there were days that were more annoying than others but I never got too down about it and at the same time, I’ve had a great season. I’ve had over 150 winners and two Grade One winners, so I don’t have much to complain about.”

One of the hallmarks of this season’s title race has been the good nature of the competition between two riders who are graduates of the same Ditcheat academy and have been weighing room companions since their teenage years.

The two table-toppers sit side by side in the changing rooms, allowing plenty of light-hearted ribbing to take place in the midst of a hard-fought battle.

“It’s been fun and it would obviously be more fun if I was the one leading it and not Harry,” continued Bowen.

“We’ve had plenty of banter about it in the weighing room and no fallings out. I know a few championships that have gone to the wire have ended in a few arguments, but this one hasn’t.”

Meanwhile, Cobden has admitted to having some nerves as the finishing line approaches, with Paul Nicholls’ stable jockey now the man being pursued by his long-time friend – and he is yet to fully consider what it will mean to lift the trophy aloft at Sandown on Saturday afternoon.

“I must admit I was getting a bit jittery,” said Cobden.

“I was quite relaxed about it 10 days ago when I was 15 clear and I thought it would be a miracle for Sean to pull that back, but the last 10 days I’ve barely ridden a winner, so it’s been quite difficult and Sean has been riding loads of winners.

“When he clawed back 10 in as many days, I thought I need to pull my finger out here and thankfully Wednesday night was good and I’ve a good book of rides to come.

“I suppose he is unlucky because he has had five weeks out and I would say if Sean Bowen couldn’t ride five winners in five weeks, then it would be a bad job – and if he wasn’t injured, I would say it would be me chasing him at the moment.

“I haven’t thought about winning yet, as I don’t want to count my chickens until they hatch. It’s very much business as usual until Saturday and although I’m seven clear and there’s only three days left of racing, Sean Bowen is riding out of his skin and could pull anything off.”

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