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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Win the Gold Cup or be champion jockey? In an ideal world both would be nice

The Welsh National-winning conditional, 16, takes the weekly grilling

James Bowen is all smiles after winning the Welsh National on Raz De Maree
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What advice would you give your ten-year-old self?
Help out my parents more often.

What is your earliest racing memory?
When my parents' horse Ballycassidy was in front and clear in the 2006 Grand National. Unfortunately he fell at Valentine's the final time when six lengths clear.

When did you first know you'd become a jockey and why?
When I was nine and my brothers and two cousins Peter and Josh Bryan used to have races on our little 12-hand ponies. Sean always used to win.

You have a clear lead in the Stobart conditional jockeys' championship, is it something you are going all out to win?
I'm very grateful for the support I've had to get in this position and I'm just hoping the opportunities continue to come my way. It's definitely something I'd love to win.

How have you settled into your role with Nicky Henderson and what's it like working at a yard bursting with so much talent?
I did three summers at Gordon Elliott's, so moving home wasn't such a shock, although I did get a bit homesick in the first week. I'm fine now and I'm really enjoying my time at Seven Barrows. Because I'm racing I have different lots every day but I've sat on Buveur D'Air, Might Bite and Apple's Shakira. Mr Henderson has so many nice horses, it's an incredible place to work.

You have made a great start to your career, which victory has given you the most satisfaction so far?
Winning the Welsh National on Raz De Maree. Dad has tried to win it in the past and to do it on my first attempt was amazing. I think it was my first ride in any sort of National. My win on Thomas Campbell at Cheltenham for the guvnor was great too.

Would you rather win the Cheltenham Gold Cup or be champion jockey?
Champion jockey, as it's been my ambition since I was about ten. In an ideal world both would be nice.

If you could play any other sport professionally, which would it be and why?
I might be too young to have a driving licence but I'd have to go with Formula One as I think it would give you the nearest feel to a horse race.

Other than better prize-money, what is the one thing you would change about racing?
I think owners should be treated everywhere like they are at places such as Cheltenham, Aintree and Bangor.

Raz De Maree (right) runs on gamely for James Bowen to deny Alfie Spinner in the Welsh Grand Nationa at Chepstow

Which country would you most like to race in that you haven't yet?
France would be the obvious one as the fences and the style of racing is a lot different. It would be a good experience to ride there one day.

Kauto Star or Arkle?
Kauto Star. I wasn't alive when Arkle was about.

What's your biggest ambition in racing?
My ultimate dream is to become champion jockey one day.

And outside of racing?
Make my parents proud.

What is your worst habit?
Eating chocolate.

If you could meet one person, past or present, who would it be?
Sir Gordon Richards. I admire him greatly for what he achieved.

What is your most treasured possession?
I'd have to say my phone as I'm not sure what I'd do without it.

How do you relax away from racing?
Go back to Wales and spend time with my family.

Who has been the greatest influence on your career?
My parents. They've always believed in me and helped me out a great deal.

Bowen's older brother Sean with their father Peter
What is the strangest/funniest thing you have seen on a racecourse?
Oliver Brady.

Who do you most admire from the Flat?
Definitely Ryan Moore – he's pure class.

What's your biggest fear?
Maybe it's my age but I try not to fear anything.

Do you have a nickname? 
I don't really have one but a few people used to call me JCB as they're my initials.

Social media – friend or foe?
Friend. I look at Twitter and Facebook quite a lot but I wouldn't be the most prolific poster.

Who would be your four ideal dinner party guests?
My mum [Karen] and dad [Peter] and brothers Mickey and Sean. I'd feel sorry for Mum as she's the only one out of the lot of us who can cook.

Who is your biggest fancy for the next few weeks?
Potters Story won well at Ffos Las last month and should be a nice horse for the future.

If you are interested in this, you should read:

Pony-riding tearaway to level-headed pro: the continuous rise of James Bowen

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I'm really enjoying my time at Seven Barrows and I've sat on Buveur D'Air, Might Bite and Apple's Shakira
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