By Isaac Murphy
Slick Raven has taken flight from Justin Bowe’s Greenmount kennels in the last month. A win in the Fifth-Grade stayers final at Wentworth Park convincing the trainer to fly further South for a crack at the Group One Bold Trease which she has qualified for this Friday night at Sandown Park.
The Bold Trease is the main compliment to the TAB Melbourne Cup run earlier in the night carrying a $105,000 purse for the winner, a prize that has drawn a stacked field but Bowe is focused on Slick Raven and he says she’s flying.
“I haven’t looked at the other dogs too much, most of them have credentials that speak for themselves in Tornado Tears, Blue Moon Rising and Boom Down. Ideally, we get out and lead from box two and she’ll take a lot of running down,” he said.
“There’s a bit of pace outside us but I think we can beat Boom Down out who is in the red, so if we can find the rail early and hold it who knows.”
Slick Raven has made her mark as a front running stayer and Bowe admitted he thought she was in trouble when she was one of the last away in her heat but couldn’t have been more impressed with how she rallied.
“In five hundred metre races she’s had to learn how to navigate through fields a lot, which was invaluable last Friday on one of the rare occasions she got back over the staying trip,” he said.
“It would have been a much easier watch to have her jump to the front again, but that’s not always going to be the case now she’s racing in Group One company and she showed some real fight to grab second and make the final.”
Bowe said she showed another facet of her racing and given her age thought she would only be stronger to the line in the future.
“Every time we’ve stepped her up in distance, she’s given us every indication she’ll run it out but you just don’t know until they do it. Over the last month she’s shown there’s no race too long for her in Australia,” he said.
“On top of that she’s still only two-year-old, give her another six months and she’ll only be hitting the line stronger.”
The bitch romped in by seven lengths winning at Wentworth Park three weeks ago, but had it all her own way out in front and Bowe had a decision to make whether he pushed on to Group One level.
“As good as her Fifth Grade Final win was we were wary of the fact it was a big jump to enter her in a Group One, but in the end she’d handled everything we’d thrown at her and thought why not?,” he said.
“Even if she didn’t make the final it was going to be a fantastic learning experience for her and to now go one step further just instils more confidence she belongs.”
The race serves as the first Group One for dog and trainer and Bowe is making sure they both get the most out of the experience as possible come Friday.
“No matter where she finishes Friday, it is going to be a great night. You dream of going down to Sandown Park for a Group One,” he said.
“Sean the owner, my wife along with a couple of my good mates are going down. As I said these things don’t come around too often, so we’ve got to soak it in.”
Despite all her travel, with the help of some close mates Bowe has been able to make Slick Raven feel at home away from home.
“Most importantly she’s pulled up well and had a bit of a hit out during the week and is ready to go,” he said.
“I’m very lucky with travel I’ve got a best mate that lives in Sydney and another who lives in Victoria, so she’s had the luxury of staying down in Melbourne for the week and getting that extra little tune up at the track.”
Humble to the core, Bowe is never one to trumpet his own success, but Slick Raven’s rise to prominence has brought plenty of attention to the dog and a host of well-wishers.
“It’s a great feeling to see her getting the attention she deserves. Being the only Queenslander down there, the messages of support have been coming thick and fast,” Bowe said.
“It’s a first for me to be on the National stage representing not only myself but the state as well, it’s a pretty special feeling.”
Despite from her breakout performances away from home, Bowe is looking forward to getting the bitch back on home turf where he hopes to tackle some of Friday night’s adversaries in January.
“The goal is to go towards the Gold Cup so I’ve had a pretty good look at what I want to do with her in the lead up,” he said.
“She’ll have a week off when she comes back and then we’ll give her a hit out in a Fifth Grade 600 on a Monday before getting back into the Free For All seven hundreds.”
“She’s only had the one run for one win over the 710 at Albion, so she needs a few more of them in her legs.”