Firstly, I have a lot of time for Hugh Bowman. He is a horseman at heart and a terrific jockey who came from humble beginnings.
The man will often be seen at country and picnic meetings on his days off and he is always giving back to the industry.
Still, his ride on Smart Image at Rosehill last Saturday that led to the death of promising sprinter, Hot ‘N’ Hazy, and the hospitalisation of jockey Andrew Adkins was an atrocious judgment on his part.
Whichever way you dissect the run; whether you are watching side-on, head-on or being guided by the readily available steward’s footage, the fault squarely lies with Bowman.
Bowman clearly shifts left when there was no room to do so, impeding Hot ’N’ Hazy who fell; and according to the Racing NSW steward’s report, the three-year-old had to be euthanized due to a “catastrophic injury to its near-foreleg”.
And as much as punters want to see jockeys taking every option to win, Bowman’s efforts overshadowed his responsibility and duty of care to the other horses and jockeys in the race.
For this act of sheer negligence, Racing NSW stewards found Bowman guilty of careless riding but offered a meek six-week suspension for the crime; which was understandably not well received by the general public.
Despite the stewards finding Bowman guilty of careless riding, Racing NSW stewards suggested that a slight shift our by the Glyn Schofield ridden Mr Colorful in the lead up to the incident made the event all that much worse.
“Whilst Stewards did not believe Glyn Schofield’s manner of riding at the relevant time breached the Australian Rules of Racing, they were satisfied that the shift outwards by Mr Colorful did add to the severity of the incident and therefore acknowledged this shift when determining an appropriate penalty,” the steward’s report read.
Whilst there was a slight shift made by Mr Colorful, there is absolutely no reason Bowman should have taken the split because, simply, there was no gap, split or any room.
If anything, Racing NSW look to have found a way to protect Bowman, and with this reasoning, it’s open’s a pandora’s box when judging future events.
In many people’s books, Bowman is classed as Australia’s best hoop and was integral to the career of Winx. That subsequent racing romance reinvigorated the NSW racing scene.
And it is this the very reason why many people, including myself, believe Racing NSW have gone easy on Bowman, instead of throwing the book at him and kicking him to the curb for three to six months.
Bowman’s popularity and place at the top of the NSW jockeys pecking order is the reason why Racing NSW should have made an example of him and demonstrated to younger jockeys these actions are not on.
At the end of the day, Bowman is out of work for six weeks and he will get to go back to the farm and enjoy some down time.
Whilst on the other hand, Adkins has seven rib fractures, a pneumothorax, a fractured tibia and fibula that required a rod and a fractured clavicle that required a plate.
Worst of all, and what saddens me the most is that owners and the racing industry lost a truly talented youngster in Hot ‘N’ Hazy, and while losses are a part of the racing game, an avoidable tragedy like this has seemingly gone unpunished.