Hugh Bowman retains premiership lead

Hugh Bowman after winning the Incognitus Stakes at Flemington Racecourse on March 11, 2017 in Flemington, Australia. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos)

Hugh Bowman and Brenton Avdulla have returned to the winners’ stall by slender margins at Randwick as the Sydney jockeys’ premiership race continues to go to the wire.

The frontrunners both snapped losing streaks at an opportune moment on Saturday and it was Bowman who ultimately maintained his half a win advantage after Kings Of Leon spiked a sequence of 18 rides without saluting.

Kings Of Leon, one of Bowman’s seven bookings, scored the Winx Is Coming Handicap (1200m) by a short head following a stirring duel with Last Witness, to negate Avdulla’s first win since returning from suspension.

“I had to do a bit more work than I thought,” Bowman said.

“If I had a clear run he would have won by three lengths.”

Avdulla ended a run of 10 metro starts without a win when Argent D’Or ($10) dipped to pip Bowman and $1.90 favourite Spending To Win by a nose in the Schweppes Handicap (1200m).

“It’s been a long few weeks, it’s been a very frustrating last month,” Avdulla admitted.

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

“I’ve had a very consistent 11 months and I’ve been very disappointed with how things have been going.

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

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

Avdulla, who had only four rides on the card, confessed 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.”

The duo continue their rivalry at Canterbury on Wednesday before James McDonald’s successor is crowned at Rosehill next weekend.

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