Muswellbrook preview: Justin Bowen eyeing off an early New Year double

Trainer Justin Bowen can start the New Year with a trick shot by winning back-to-back races with gifted siblings In Spades and Read ‘Em And Weep at Muswellbrook on Tuesday.

The pair are the second and third foals respectively out of Four Aces Farm’s broodmare jewel Spirit Of Soul, herself a close relative of the Golden Slipper winner Polar Success.

While In Spades has already clocked up 14 starts on her C.V, while Tuesday’s Horsepower Maiden Handicap (900m) will be Read ‘Em Weep’s first race day experience.

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The daughter of Coolmore’s resident four-time Group 1 winner Churchill sent out all the right signs for future success when she won her December 20 trial at Scone with Serg Lisnyy in the saddle.

“We had a pretty fair opinion of her at home and it was really nice to see her back that up in the trial,” Bowen says.

“She is only a compact little filly but she has got plenty of speed to burn.

“She’s got a nice soft draw on Tuesday which will help and as long as she can jump cleanly, she will be there for a long way.

“Plan B, if she did happen to miss the kick and ended up caught in behind them, I still think she will be versatile enough to have a turn of foot if needed.”

Read ‘Em And Weep’s half-sister In Spades counts Muswellbrook as a favoured venue.

The daughter of Dissident has raced at home five times posting both of her career wins at the Hunter Valley circuit including the coveted Red Crown in June 2021.

In Spades, meanwhile, will open her 2023 account in the Godolphin Class 2 Handicap (1000m) with Grant Buckley doing the honours.

Muswellbrook is one of ten racetracks that Buckley has ridden 100 or more winners.

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“In Spades’ form tapered off a little bit towards the end of last prep but she had had a lot of runs on heavy tracks so I think it just took its toll on her,” Bowen explained.

In Spades will have company in Tuesday’s assignment from her stablemate Play My Song who wholly justified her $1.70 starting price when demolishing a field of ten at Tuncurry on December 13.

“We sort of expected it but you can never be too confident I suppose,” says Bowen.

“She dropped back from provincial grade and went to Tuncurry and really put the writing on the wall for a repeat performance for her on Tuesday.

“She will just jump (from barrier one) and cruise and be right there on-pace.

“She’s spot on.”

Bowen saddles-up another last start winner at Muswellbrook on Tuesday in the shape of Herne Hill who tackles the BHP Class 1 Handicap (1280m).

Herne Hill will be steered for the fourth consecutive time by Bowen family friend Darryl McLellan who had arm chair ride on the gelding at Scone two weeks ago.

“I spoke to Digger and he said he was home at the 600 he was travelling that well.

“He’s only thrived since the run.”


Tayla’s One is in a position to win more than ten times her purchase price in a little under sixty seconds when she steps out for the first time at Taree on Tuesday.

The Glen Milligan-trained mare looked a million dollars winning her trial at Taree on December 18.

That said, the mare was picked up for a long way short of seven figures as her trainer explained.

“I bought Tayla’s One as an unbroken three-year-old for $1,250,” Milligan said.

“Timmy McIntosh breaks all my horses in and he rang me up after three or four weeks with her and said she was a bit of a handful.

“I said to him to forget about her because I didn’t want anyone getting hurt and Timmy said ‘give me a couple more weeks and I’ll see how I go’ and she turned the corner.

“She’s beautiful to do anything with her now.”

Tayla’s One did everything right in her trial after the last race meeting of 2022, tagging the leader before gaining the ascendancy inside the final 100m to win comfortably under a motionless Zac Wadick.

“She trialled better than what she was showing on the track,” Milligan said.

“She had two or three jump-outs and she went okay. Zac rode her in the trial and he even came back as said it’s the best that she’s ever gone.

“The time was a bit slow compared to the maiden on the day but Zac said he had a bit of petrol in the tank still but the barrier is a big concern on Tuesday.”

Tayla’s One’s meagre purchase price is an insult to her esteemed heritage.

Her fifth dam is the great Ballanchine who was co-owned by Robert Sangster and Sheikh Maktoum, and collected the rare double of the 1984 English Oaks and Irish Derby.

Milligan and Wadick have fared much better in the barrier draw with Madiba Rose resuming with the aid of ‘box one’ in the Mid Coast Glass Fencing Handicap (1000m).

“She will jump and be on the speed,” Milligan said.

“She always lands half a length on front out of the gates as a rule.

“I wouldn’t say she is flying by any means but she’s working okay.”

Originally published as Trainer Justin Bowen is ready to kick off the New Year with a winning double

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