Yorkshire Jockeys Horse Racing

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JUMP jockeys Sean and James Bowen are all set to tackle the challenge of the Sky Bet “Jump Jockeys’ Nunthorpe’ Handicap, which opens Saturday’s seven-race card at York Racecourse.

Sean is blazing a trail at the summit of this season’s National Hunt championship, but this weekend he and his brother will be in action over the flying five furlongs of the Knavesmire. Sean, who has already registered 43 winners in the latest campaign, will partner the David O’Meara-trained Soul Seeker. James will be aboard trainer Richard Fahey’s stable representative, Internationaldream.

Both horses have raced at York – and Soul Seeker actually won the “Jump Jockeys’ Nunthorpe” for rider Tom Scudamore a year ago.

The Bowen boys have some experience of York, having ridden in the race before. Indeed, Sean came second in it on Fumbo Jumbo in 2017.

Sean said: “Every one of us enjoys riding in it because it’s obviously a lot different. You go in stalls and you go a lot faster. But I did have a few rides on the Flat last year and the year before, so hopefully I’ll be a little bit more used to it than James!

“Look, it’s something completely different – I’m obviously not even used to it either. But it will be enjoyable anyway. York is one of the best Flat tracks in the country, so it’s great that we can ride there.”

Sean has actually booted home a winner on the Flat. He was aboard Doc Sportello, successful at Chepstow in a six-furlong handicap in August 2020.

On paper, his latest Flat mount Soul Seeker would look to have claims of adding to that solitary success – although Sean has yet to chat to Scudamore about the horse.

He said: “I suppose I will when we’re up in York. But Scu seems to win it every year, so hopefully one of us can take it off him this year!”

James had his first experience of the race back in 2019 and has vivid memories of it.

He said: “I’d never ridden on the Flat until I rode in that race – it’s a lot different. But I really did enjoy it. It was a good bit of fun but Flat jockeys are a lot fitter than jump jockeys, I know that much. I was blowing through my **** afterwards!

“When I rode in it, I picked my whip up after the first furlong because I thought we were turning in…four furlongs left, turning for home in Ffos Las. I was thinking, ‘time to go!’”

James takes a similarly light-hearted perspective to the subject of sibling rivalry in the race. “I’ll definitely beat Sean – there’s no doubt about that!” he said, chuckling.

Sean added: “Everyone seems a bit more relaxed and enjoys the day out. Obviously, everyone’s still trying to win – I’ll be trying to beat James anyway.”

No less than 20 horses have been declared for the £20,000 race that will also see a host of jumps stars such as Scudamore, Sam Twiston-Davies, Brian Hughes and Aidan Coleman in action.

York’s latest two-day meeting commences tomorrow (Friday) at 5.20pm with the John Wright Electrical Stakes Apprentice Handicap, one of seven scheduled races before Madness perform as part of Music Showcase Weekend on the Knavesmire. Saturday will also see another post-racing concert with Sugababes taking centre-stage.