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Friday, 14 December, 2018

To ride a horse as good as Winx is beyond my wildest dreams

The top Australian Flat jockey, 37, takes part in our weekly grilling

Winx and Hugh Bowman will bid for a third Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 28
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What advice would you give your ten-year-old self?
The harder you work, the luckier you get – and be honest with yourself.

What is your earliest racing memory?
Picking up losing betting tickets as a child to pass the time as my parents enjoyed the sport of kings – my dad was an amateur jockey in New South Wales. 

When did you first know you’d become a jockey and why?
When I went to boarding school as a 12-year-old I knew I wanted to be a jockey. I just wanted to ride horses and compete.

You're the lucky man who gets to ride Winx – what is it like as an experience? What makes her so good?
I always dreamed of being a jockey growing up, but to have the opportunity to ride a horse as good as Winx is beyond my wildest dreams. She's quite a feminine-looking individual who doesn’t really catch the eye at first glance but she has a very high cruising speed and a will to win that I have rarely felt.

Would you like to see Winx leave Australia and compete on the international stage, and would you be keen for her to come to Royal Ascot?
Yes, I’d like to see Winx race overseas because she’s proved herself to be world class and I think she’d excel in European conditions.

Having had spells in Britain before, would you consider coming back and riding here again?
I’d love to do it again. The difficulty is that I can only be in one place at a time and our seasons overlap a little bit.

If you could play any other sport professionally, which would it be and why?
Golf, because it would allow me to travel the world if I was any good and golfers have a long career span.

Is there anything British racing can learn from Australian racing and vice versa?
I’m sure racing bodies all around the world can learn from each other and I think they are – the world is becoming a smaller place and racing is a global sport.

Which country would you most like to race in that you haven’t yet?
The USA, because it's a powerhouse of world racing and breeding. Although I've had a couple of rides in France, I'd love to ride in the Arc and the Derby. 

What would it mean to you to win the Cox Plate for a third time with Winx?
It would really mean a lot because Winx will go down in history and deservedly so.

Frankel or Winx?
Frankel is the best horse I’ve seen but if they could have raced against each other I’d have stuck with Winx.

What’s your biggest ambition in racing?
To do the best I can with each horse I ride. 

And outside of racing?
It’s a hard one because racing is my life and pretty much has been since I left school. I enjoy playing golf and spending time with my family. I love getting back to our farm in Dunedoo [in central New South Wales] but my schedule limits this opportunity.

What is your worst habit?

If you could meet one person, past or present, who would it be?
Roger Federer. I admire the way he conducts himself on and off the court. He’s an exceptional athlete and I’d like to understand how he manages his thoughts in high-pressure moments. 

Roger Federer: "I admire the way he conducts himself on and off the court"
What has been your most embarrassing moment?
Hopping off a horse in a Group 1 1,200-metre race and suggesting that 1,400 metres was too far for the horse. 

What is your most treasured possession?
My family.

How do you relax away from racing?
Golf and having my wife yell at me.

Who has been the greatest influence on your career?
I've had many great influences and many great mentors and it took until I had children myself to realise the greatest influence was my father. 

What’s your biggest fear?

Social media – friend or foe?
It's only useful as a news feed.

Who would be your four ideal dinner party guests?
Roger Federer, Prince Harry, Scarlett Johansson and Robbie Williams.

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Frankel is the best horse I’ve seen but if they could have raced against each other I’d have stuck with Winx

Key data

Hugh Bowman Winx
E.W. Terms
Sky bet