A thrilling renewal of The All-Star Mile saw Hugh Bowman cement his reputation as the ‘King of the Valley’ with victory in the world’s richest mile race on Mugatoo, whose owner ambassador Matt Forys walked away with a cheque for $250,000.
Mr Forys, a father-of-three who lives in Shepparton, will soon start searching the property listings in earnest after pocketing the life-changing sum thanks to Bowman’s brilliance on the Kris Lees-trained Mugatoo, who was awarded a wildcard into the $5 million showpiece.
The construction manager, who won Tabcorp’s competition to represent Mugatoo, has set his sights on upgrading to a dream house after Bowman – a four-time Ladbrokes Cox Plate winner at The Valley – just got the better of another champion jockey in Damien Oliver.
Two-time Group 1 winner Russian Camelot and Mugatoo – who finished third and fourth respectively in last year’s Cox Plate at The Valley – both relished the wet conditions and knuckled down to fight out the finish. It was the Irish import, owned by the Australian Bloodstock syndicate, who prevailed by half-a-length to spark wild scenes of celebration in the stands, where Forys watched the race with his partner Amanda.
“I’m speechless, this is going to take a while to sink in,” he said.
“The win couldn’t have come at a better time, as we were looking to buy a new house and we might be setting our sights a bit higher now.
“It looked like he [Mugatoo] was going to get trapped on the rail so I thought our chance had gone, but then he got a clear run and Hughie did the rest.
“What a ride by Hughie, it’s just an unbelievable feeling and it’s going to make a massive difference to our lives.”
Bowman has featured in all three editions of The All-Star Mile, finishing third on Alizee in 2019 and seventh on Kolding last year.
The 40-year-old is well used to enjoying success at The Valley, having guided the mighty mare Winx to four straight Cox Plate wins, and he was impressed with the atmosphere generated by a COVID-reduced crowd of more than 6,000 spectators.
“I’ve come home to a few good roars from the crowd at The Valley, and today was no exception,” he said.
“It’s a fantastic result for everyone involved with this horse. It’s amazing the emotion involved with this sport.”
Lees described the win as one of the biggest thrills of his career, adding: “The race has been really well received, and the roar went up when the gates opened even with a restricted crowd.
“It is putting its footprint on racing now. It’s right up there, a great concept and great to be a part of it.”
Russian Camelot’s owner ambassador, Julian Kaldawi, had planned to visit his father in Greece if he won the $250,000 first prize, and could still be heading overseas when international borders reopen after collecting a cheque for $75,000.
Behemoth finished third to earn his owner ambassador, 70-year-old Trafalgar resident Ray Newton, a $40,000 payday.
The top five was rounded out by recent Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) winner Lunar Fox (fourth) and Queensland’s cult hero The Harrovian (fifth), earning $20,000 and $15,000 respectively for their owner ambassadors.
The 10 remaining owner ambassadors each walked away with $10,000,