Title-chasing rider Sean Bowen was delighted to return to riding at Huntingdon on Thursday, despite being narrowly denied a dream comeback aboard Roccovango.
The 26-year-old has been leading the race to be crowned this season’s jumping champion for several months but has been sidelined by injury since suffering a nasty fall from Gordon Elliott’s Farren Glory in the Grade One Formby Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. on Saint Stephen’s Day.
Over the intervening period, Harry Cobden has significantly eroded Bowen’s lead, with just four winners splitting the top two (121-117) heading into Thursday’s action.
Bowen headed to Huntingdon for a solitary ride for boss Olly Murphy, with Roccovango a 3/1 chance for the Mulberry Developments Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
Despite working hard away from home, Roccovango responded to his runner’s demands to stay in the fight by jumping the last stretch, but in the end he had to settle for second place, losing by a neck. to the favorite Nordic Tiger of 11/10.
“It’s nice to be back and the horse ran well. We didn’t get there in the end, but it was nice to get going again,” Bowen said.
“To be fair, he absolutely pulled away from last and showed a good attitude, but he just couldn’t get me the fairytale comeback.
“Everything felt in good working order and I’m ready to go.”
Asked if it had been difficult to see Cobden eat away at his lead since the start of the year, Bowen added: “You can’t be frustrated by that because when I was out, unless Harry was doing something very wrong, he was going to ride a lot. winners at that time.
“What was going to happen was inevitable and I just need to come back and ride a lot of winners.”
Weather permitting, Bowen’s next stop will be Kempton on Friday before heading to Newbury to partner the Murphy-trained Go Dante in the Betfair Hurdle. The latter has been booked for this lucrative prize since he won at Cheltenham in mid-December and his driver hopes to reunite with the eight-year-old this weekend.
“I’ll have a couple of warm-up races and he’s the most exciting one for the weekend,” Bowen said. “I saw him the other day and he seems to be in really good shape, so he’s someone you should be looking forward to.”