By Mark Brassel
He may have 'sat on the bench' during Day 1 of The Championships at Royal Randwick last Saturday, but champion jockey Hugh Bowman is expected to go close to claiming his fourth successive Nathan Berry Medal this Saturday.
Bowman was struck down with a virus forcing him to miss last weekend's huge opening of The Championships, but he will be out to make up for lost time with five excellent mounts - including the champ Winx - at this Saturday's race meeting.
The latest TAB market predicts a two-jockey battle with Kerrin McEvoy (on four points) remaining favourite at $1.70 to win the prestigious Nathan Berry Medal, ahead of Bowman at $2.80. The next best are Mark Zahra ($7) and Blake Shinn.
"How could you leave Hughie out of anything with the book of rides he has?" declared TAB's media manager, Glenn Munsie.
"Of course there's Winx, but also those hard in the market of their respective races like Viridine, Unforgotten and Just Dreaming.
"The fact that the jockeys shared the spoils around last Saturday leaves Hughie with the opportunity to pounce, but firstly he has to reel in Kerrin McEvoy who has a strong book as well, including Luvaluva, Foxplay, Aloft, Happy Clapper, I Am Excited and Fiesta.
"One thing's for sure, all jockeys will take no prisoners in winning the Nathan Barry Medal which is now established as one of the major prizes for the riders during The Championships."
Tye Angland holds the lead going into Saturday's Day 2 of The Championships with a slender one-point advantage over McEvoy. Angland scored five points last Saturday winning the Darley TJ Smith Stakes on Trapeze Artist and finishing a close second in the Harrolds Australian Derby (Ace High).
McEvoy sits in second spot after being runner-up aboard Redezl in the TJ Smith and Don't Give a Damn (Newhaven Park Country Championships Final) giving him four points.
Mark Zahra burst into contention when he scored a heart-stopping nose win aboard Levendi in the Australian Derby. Zahra snatched the three points from Tye Angland after an epic battle down the stretch. A race earlier Damian Lane locked in three points when roughie El Dorado Dreaming ($81) zoomed down the outside to knock out the favourite Oohood (Zac Purton) in the Inglis Sires'.
The Nathan Berry Medal is awarded to the most successful jockey over the 12 races of The Championships and pays tribute to the former top jockey who passed away in early April 2014.
The Nathan Berry Medal is unique as it features his initials ‘NJB’ in the same font Nathan carried on his racing jodhpurs, and is adorned by a light blue & dark blue ribbon – mirroring the colours he carried on Unencumbered.
2018 NATHAN BERRY MEDAL (after Day 1)
2017 - HUGH BOWMAN
2016 - HUGH BOWMAN
2015 - HUGH BOWMAN
2014 - TOMMY BERRY/JAMES McDONALD (tied)
TAB Market (pre-Day 2)
$1.70 Kerrin McEVOY, $2.80 Hugh BOWMAN, $7 Mark ZAHRA, $15 Blake SHINN, $21 Brenton AVDULLA, Damian LANE, $35 Michael WALKER, $71 Craig WILLIAMS