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Converge on track to deliver J.J. triumph

By Glenn Davis

Co-trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott are hopeful of spoiling jockey Hugh Bowman’s bid for 100 Group 1’s in the J.J. Atkins at Eagle Farm on Saturday.

Waterhouse and Bott have the $3.50 favourite Converge and stablemate Volcanic Rock – a $21 outsider – lining up against Bowman, who is bidding for his 100th Group 1 win aboard second favourite Port Louis at $4.80.

Bowman’s racing journey has seen him chalk up 99 wins at the top level – 25 aboard champion mare Winx – with the latest behind the Edward Cummings-trained Duais in the Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm last week.

He will join the likes of George Moore, Damien Oliver and Jim Cassidy as the only jockeys to ride 100 or more Group 1 winners if successful on Port Louis.

“I think Port Louis is probably our biggest danger but Hugh might have to wait another day for his next big win,” Bott declared.

Converge rocketed into J.J. Atkins favouritism off an unlucky second to Tiger Of Malay in the Group 2 Sires’ Produce Stakes at Eagle Farm last month.

The lights were Flashing for Volcanic Rock to run in the J.J. Atkins following his brilliant win in the Listed Phoenix Stakes at Eagle Farm last Saturday.

Converge - a Tim Clarke mount - has drawn well in barrier five in the 1600-metre feature while Volcanic Rock jumps from gate six with Kiwi rider Opie Bosson set to make his winter debut.

Bowman’s hopes of notching up 100 Group 1s was dealt a blow when Port Louis drew gate 13.

Converge
Volcanic Rock

Converge is dwarfed standing next to Volcanic Rock but what he lacks in size is made up with a big ticker.

“Converge is quite a small horse and he’d be just over 15 hands but he’s got a very big heart,” Bott said.

“He was a bit unlucky in the Sires when he got further back than we expected and his options were limited.

“He got caught in an awkward position on the home turn but he did well to make up so much ground.”

Bott believed Volcanic Rock was a horse on the improve and he would have no problem handling 1600 metres.

“His win in The Phoenix was a good effort for a horse still improving and it will be interesting to see how he handles the step up in class,” he said.

Bott and Waterhouse have never won the J.J. Atkins since the pair started a training partnership five years ago.

However, Waterhouse has won the feature twice in her own right with Romantic Touch in 2013 and Almalad the following year.

If successful again, Waterhouse will join Chris Waller as the most successful trainers in  J.J. Atkins history with three wins apiece.

Waller won his first with Pressday in 2010 followed by Press Statement in 2015 and The Autumn Sun in 2018.