Sean Bowen jockey

Jockey Sean Bowen after winning the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle on Not So Sleepy during day two of The Betfair Tingle Creek Festival at Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher. Picture date: Saturday December 9, 2023. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Bowen’s Back! . . . Super Sean Ready To Leave Rivals Behind Him In Hunt For Title

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By Graham Thomas

Sean Bowen returns to racing on Thursday, convinced he can still become the first Welsh rider to win the jump jockeys championship for 70 years.

Bowen is back in the saddle at Huntingdon, having finally overcome a knee injury he suffered on Boxing Day.

When the Pembrokeshire rider left Aintree, a faller on Farren Glory, he was 31 victories ahead of his nearest challenger in the championship, Harry Cobden.

That lead is now down to just four wins and with Bowen having to take it steadily at first in terms of his number of rides per meeting, Cobden has become odds-on favourite to take the title.

But that won’t prevent Bowen from giving it a real go over the next few weeks in a bid to take his first coveted champion jockey title.

“It’s been a long six weeks out of the saddle, and I really can’t wait to get back riding on Thursday.” said the 26-year-old Bowen.

“Harry has been riding right at the top of his game recently, and Paul Nicholls’ horses are also in great form, so I really need to get back riding winners if I want to be champion jockey, which make no mistake, I do.

“I’d much rather still have a comfortable lead, but the fact Harry is now breathing down my neck at the top of the championship has given me that extra bit of fire in my belly to want to get back out there and ride as many winners as I possibly can.

“It’s very much going to be a numbers game for me for the rest of the season, so wherever I think I have the best chance of riding a few winners is where I’ll be heading, regardless of the high-profile action that might be taking place elsewhere.”

With the championship running until April 27, Bowen needs to hit the ground running if he is to see off the challenge of Cobden.

That means quickly recapturing the form and swagger that hgave him 121 wins before his injury.

But he has been training hard in the gym and although his physios have insisted he must limit his early schedule while his knee gets used to the extra strain, he is very much up for the fight.

Bowen returns on trainer Olly Murphy’s Roccovango in the Mulberry Developments Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.

“I don’t tend to watch much racing when I’m out of action, but I do watch my brother James and support him, and I’ll always check the results to see how Olly’s horses have got on.

“It is always tough seeing the horses you’d have been on go out there and win, because even though you’re happy they’ve won, you always want to be the jockey to win on them.

Murphy has been Bowen’s biggest source of winners this campaign, with the combination enjoying 36 winners at a 26 per cent strike-rate.

Bowen, who was champion conditional jockey in 2014-15, rode out at Murphy’s Warwickshire yard on Wednesday morning and passed a fitness test in the afternoon.

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