Brenton Avdulla noses to premiership lead

The Gun

Brenton Avdulla and Hugh Bowman appropriately needed a photo finish to separate their mounts as the Sydney jockeys’ premiership frontrunners went head-to-head for the first time at Randwick.

Avdulla watched a replay of the latter stages of the Schweppes Handicap (1200m) on the big screen while aboard Argent D’Or ($10) and raised an arm in relief as the three-year-old gelding pipped Bowman and the $1.90 favourite Spending To Win by a nose.

“It’s been a long few weeks, it’s been a very frustrating last month,” Avdulla said, saluting after a metro race for the first time in 11 attempts on Saturday.

Avdulla overtook Bowman, whose last Sydney winner was 17 starts ago, by half a win after he guided the Joe Pride-trained Argent D’Or to the fence as the post loomed.

He returned from a five-meeting suspension at Warwick Farm midweek and could see the upside of his enforced rest.

“The body’s not holding up real great. I’ve had a few niggling issues. I think the suspension was good for me,” he said.

“I wasn’t happy with the way I was riding, I’ve been able to focus back up again.”

Avdulla admitted he initially feared the worst after Spending To Win appeared to rally with his last stride.

“I honestly thought I got nutted the way things are going.

“I tracked up behind Hugh and I was in two minds whether to go in or out. I was mindful that my bloke’s only got a short turn of foot on him.

“When Hughie stepped out it gave me the in and he sprinted really well.

“He put his head in front, I thought he was going to go on with it but his run just ended and Hughie’s horse fought back.”

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