Bowe relishing chance to take on high Flyers in Plate with Shantou
The Galway Plate has recently become the preserve of the rich and famous, but Colin Bowe is looking forward to pitching Shantou Flyer in against the big guns in the €220,000 feature.
Since 2010, one or other of Willie Mullins, JP McManus, Michael O'Leary or Alan Potts has plundered the spoils in the Wednesday highlight.
This time, as of now, each of the first six in the betting for the Tote.com-sponsored event represent at least one of that elite contingent.
You can get odds of between 12/1 and 16/1 about Shantou Flyer next week emulating his 2015 course and distance success in the beginners' chase that is held on the Thursday of the festival.
Potentially, those odds do him a disservice, and while Bowe might not be a face that many of next week's once-a-year revellers will recognise, his name alongside Shantou Flyer's constitutes a massive positive.
Crowned champion point-to-point handler for a fourth time in the spring, the Wexford man is a serious operator. However, the nature of his business means that the vast majority of useful prospects are sold on before they grace the racetrack proper.
Bowe has displayed his range of skills with quality mares such as Askanna, Little King Robin and Glibin, but practically every gelding that resides at his Enniscorthy base is there with a view to being sold on at the soonest possible remove.
Luckily for him, Shantou's Flyer owner Sean O'Neill is not interested in selling. Their six-year-old son of Shantou, successful in three of his four starts up to Grade Two level following his 2015 Ballybrit win, rounded off last term with a fine turn to be fifth in Grade One company at Punchestown.
On his Down Royal return last month after a short break, he was just chinned when conceding weight to Elegant Statesman. Next week, with Road To Riches keeping the weights down, he should get in off just 10st 9lb.
"He is in good form," Bowe said yesterday of his stable star. "The plan is to run in the Plate. He is going well and should hopefully get his ground. The majority of National Hunt horses that jump fences would prefer a bit of ease and he is no different, but he will go on any ground bar heavy.
"He handled the track well there last year and came up the hill well - he likes a good test. Road To Riches is a very good horse - he won the race two years ago - but, if he stays there, we are left with a lovely weight.
"Shantou Flyer came as close as he could without winning at Down Royal, so we were delighted with that. He travelled sweet, and, although he came back a little sore, it was only for a day or two. He has been fine ever since."
Bowe, whose in-form mares Havana Dancer and Golden Flowerpower could also turn up at Ballybrit, makes no attempt to conceal his excitement at having a smart horse to aim at one of the game's most prestigious events.
"It is very, very rare," he said of possessing such a capable performer. "Whatever chance I might have with a filly that someone is keeping to breed from, I would only be after winning with a handful of geldings on the track.
"He's definitely the best that I've had to run, so to be going to Galway with a horse like him is a big deal for us."
Elsewhere, Alan Cooper, on behalf of Bocca Baciata's Flaxman Stables owners, has indicated that Sunday's classy Jessica Harrington-trained Curragh Group Two scorer could return to Group One company next month.
Races such as the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville or Arlington's Beverly D Stakes are now being considered.