Jockey Hugh Bowman will ride Sir Elton in his return to racing at Randwick on Saturday.
Securing Hugh Bowman to ride undefeated sprinter Sir Elton happened by chance but it’s a moment Adam Duggan has been waiting for a long time.
The trainer was happy to retain Tommy Berry but he wasn’t riding at Randwick on Saturday, so Duggan rang jockey manager Bryan Haskins to see if Kerrin McEvoy was available, only to learn he was in England.
Haskins suggested Bowman, who was about to publicly announce his return to the saddle after a break, and Duggan didn’t hesitate to confirm the booking, not only because Bowman is the best in the business but because the pair are old friends.
“I met Hugh when he first came to Sydney for Ron Quinton as an apprentice with his cowboy hat on and he was still putting his thumbs in his belt back then, he was a real country bumpkin,” Duggan said.
“He hasn’t ridden a lot for me, he might have ridden Frozen Rope one day at Canterbury and run second.
“I’ve been waiting to get one good enough to put him on.”
Duggan blew his $100,000 budget to buy Sir Elton, stretching to $175,000 to land the yearling he just couldn’t come home without.
It was a nervous start and it got worse when the horse injured his foot on the float to Duggan’s Gosford stable, requiring delicate surgery and an extra six months in the paddock.
It wasn’t until 12 months ago Duggan knew his faith hadn’t been misplaced when he worked Sir Elton with a horse he knew could gallop.
“I worked them together one morning and Sir Elton just jogged beside him and from that day on I knew we had a nice horse,” he said.
Sir Elton has won both his starts on the provincial circuit, the manner of his wins attracting offers from Hong Kong, but at the moment Duggan says the horse isn’t for sale.
Punters have also liked what they’ve seen and the three-year-old is an odds-on favourite for Saturday’s Everest Carnival Handicap (1100m).
Duggan has been training for 12 years and knows better than to count his chickens but he is hopeful Sir Elton can live up to the hype.
“I don’t get too far ahead of myself, racing is a great leveller but it’s hard not to get excited about him,” he said.