ANOTHER year, another Melbourne Cup disappointment for former Bathurst apprentice jockey Hugh Bowman.
There was not a lot Bowman could do yesterday as his fancied runner Preferment was buffeted out of Australia’s biggest race as he was beginning to wind up down the Flemington straight.
Rank outsider Prince Of Penzance ($65.90) stunned the crowd to take out the world’s richest two-mile event, making history in the process as Michelle Payne became the first woman to claim victory in the Cup.
Paying $101 on TAB fixed-odds, Prince of Penzance’s win rivalled that of fellow roughies Old Rowley (1940), Wotan (1936), and The Pear (1871), who all won at 100-1.
Bowman, whose mount started as a third favourite at $10 behind Fame Game ($5.40) and Trip To Paris ($6.40), was forced to settle well back and sat second-last for the majority of the trip.
That in itself wasn’t a problem given Preferment’s penchant for getting well back in his races before unleashing a big finish.
A huge check in the straight as he was preparing to make his run ended his chances in an instant, and it was all Bowman and his well-rated mount could do to finish ahead of a couple of stragglers at the tail-end of the field.
He passed the post in 20th.
Up ahead, Prince Of Penzance had been settled on the rail mid-field by Payne, sitting in 10th for the majority of the trip.
Unheralded pair Big Orange ($39.50) and Quest For More ($73.60) made the initial running, with Bowman happy to keep a steady tempo out of gate 11 as the horses outside looked to cross in front of him.
It wasn’t a concern given he’s come from behind at Flemington in the Turnbull Stakes and VRC Derby to win at the venue in his two runs, and he drifted back while others did the work.
Fellow fancy Fame Game was only a metre or so in front of him for a large part of the race.
Excess Knowledge ($33.30) had stalked Big Orange for the best part of 2800m before going to the lead, as former place-getter Who Shot Thebarman ($16) began to warm into the race.
At that point Bowman had taken Preferment to the middle of the track and was making good ground before disaster struck.
Gust Of Wind ($48.20) veered badly off line, smashing into Hokko Brave ($40.10), who, in turn, whacked Grand Marshal ($47.80), who carried veteran hoop Jim Cassidy in his final Melbourne Cup.
At the end of the chain reaction was Preferment. In truth, it was fortunate that none of the horses involved fell.
Payne, by that stage, had taken Prince Of Penzance wider and was gathering in their rivals, bursting clear in the final 150m to hold off Max Dynamite ($12.20) and Criterion ($17.10), who produced arguably the run of the race along the inside.
Big Orange produced a mighty effort to finish fifth.
Earlier, Bowman had enjoyed a bit of success with a couple of seconds in the lead-up races.