Bowen Bags National Ride on Shantou Flyer
With the 2018 Grand National only 10 days away, jockeys are starting to head up the news. Ruby Walsh landed the Aintree Grand National back in 2000 on his first ever ride in the race, so up-and-coming young Grand National jockey – JAMES BOWEN – will know it’s possible.
At just 17 years-old James Bowen has been handed the mount on the Richard Hobson-trained SHANTOU FLYER in the big race, which is on Saturday 14th April 2018.
Bowen will also have the opportunity to enter the Grand National record books as the youngest Grand National jockey to land the world’s greatest steeplechase should he guide Shantou Flyer, who is currently around 33/1* in the betting, to victory.
Bowen had his 17th birthday the day before this season’s Cheltenham Festival. So if he does win the National, he will be around three months younger than Bruce Hobbs, who currently holds the title as the youngest Grand National jockey to win after partnering Battleship to glory in 1938 – also on his debut ride in the race.
This season’s conditional jump jockeys’ title looking his. Having already grabbed National success when taking the Welsh version at Chepstow earlier this season on Raz De Maree, Bowen has certainly made a splash in the last 6 months. He looks set to go to the very top.
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Raz De Maree also holds a Grand National entry at this stage but after partnering Shantou Flyer to finish second in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Bowen has decided to stick with the Hobson-trained 8 year-old.
It will also be a first for trainer Richard Hobson, who is saddling his first Grand National runner – he added “We have to live the dream. Ruby Walsh was having his first ride in the National when he won on Papillon, so was David Mullins when he won the race on Rule The World as a 19-year-old. James is a future champion jockey in my opinion so it would be nice if his first ride could do the same for him – James rode me a winner on Saturday and deserves his chance. It is nice as a small stable to be able to give him his first opportunity.”
Grand National punters might also remember the horse – Shantou Flyer – as he ran in the race 12 months ago. Then, he was trained by Rebecca Curtis and ridden by Jamie Moore. He was pulled-up just before the fourth last fence last year but gets off a 3lb lower mark this year.
After his neck second at Cheltenham to Coo Star Sivola the handicapper raised him for that effort but with the Grand National weights already released his rating here won’t change – so based on his new mark and his rating from last year sets to race 4lbs well-in.
Hobson added “If you look at his seconds they were against novices like Coo Star Sivola and Ballyhill that were thrown in and he has been lumping big weights and going up every time. He is better in the Grand National after running twice since the weights were published and I am hoping for a massive run.”
Shantou Flyer is also entered in the Topham Chase but would only tackle the shorter race in the event of the ground for the National coming up “bottomless”, Hobson said.
James Bowen said: “I can’t wait. Shantou Flyer has been there before. I know he pulled up but he jumped the fences well and hopefully he can give me a good spin round. He has a chance as well.
“Shantou Flyer was second in the Ultima and he is well in now. He would be hard not to pick. I’ve won the Welsh National this season. Hopefully I can do the two.”
*Odds subject to change.
Quotes: Racing Post