Tuesday 12 November 2019

Peter Bowen: Founder of a Dynasty

It’s fair to say that, in recent years, Peter Bowen has been rather overshadowed by the exploits of his three sons, Mickey, Sean and James. In 2015, Sean became the youngest ever Champion Conditional Jockey at the age of 17, in April 2017, Mickey, 21, saddled Dineur to win the Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree, making him the youngest trainer to do so and in January 2018, James, 16, became the youngest jockey ever to win the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.

A former point-to-point trainer, Peter Bowen, took out a full training licence at his yard in Little Newcastle, near Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire in 1995. He saddled his first winner, Iffee – incidentally, ridden by an 18-year-old Richard Johnson who would go on to become a jump jockey champion, claiming 5lb – in a handicap chase at Sedgefield in October that year. Indeed, Iffee was to prove something of a money spinner for the yard, winning five more times before the end of the 1995/96 season. Another notable success in those early days was Stately Home, beaten three times in selling hurdles in 1995/96, but the winner of nine steeplechases in 1996/97, including the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown.

For readers of a certain age, though, Peter Bowen is probably still best remembered as the trainer of Always Waining, the only horse to win the Topham Chase – run over 2 miles 5 furlongs on the Grand National Course at Aintree – three times. Always Waining finished a fading fourth in the race on his first attempt, as an 8-year-old, in 2009, but returned to win it in 2010, 2011 and 2012, beating 80 rivals and amassing nearly £169,000 in prize money in the process.

Bowen had his biggest payday ever when, in 2008, 33/1 chance Snoopy Loopy took advantage of a stumble on landing by Kauto Star at the final fence to win the Betfair Chase at Haydock. Other high-profile winners over the years have included 40/1 chance Al Co in the Coral Scottish Grand National in 2014 and, more recently, Henllan Harri in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in 2017.

Bowen has yet to train a winner at the Cheltenham Festival, but went close to winning the ‘Blue Riband’ event of National Hunt racing, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with Take TheStand in 2005. The 9-year-old was sent off at 25/1 and, although outpaced by the winner, Kicking King, in the closing stages, stuck on well to finish clear second.