Bowling Along To Group One Success?

Usain Bowler charges home to win the Four'N Twenty Handicap

Usain Bowler charges home to win the Four’N Twenty Handicap (Racing Photos)


Go figure.

Usain Bowler – winner of Saturday’s Four ‘n Twenty Handicap over 1200m at Moonee Valley – may well be named (partially at least) after the world’s greatest sprinter, but his sire, So You Think, won two Cox Plates and ran third in a Melbourne Cup, while two of his best runners thus far include an Oaks winner (Sopressa) and Rosehill Guineas winner (D’Argento).

What’s more, the cream of the crop among Usain Bowler’s relations were/are usually at their best over a mile to a mile and a quarter.

However, as he showed at The Valley, Usain Bowler is a dab hand at the shorter courses, justifying the faith of trainer John Sadler who sent his charge around – earlier in the year – in the Group One Oakleigh Plate (1100m) and Newmarket Handicap (1200m).

“It’s not that I don’t think this horse (Usain Bowler) wouldn’t normally run out a strong mile or even further, but he’s had some wind issues and I reckon seven furlongs (1400m) will be about as far as he gets,” Sadler points out.

The veteran trainer – who turned 65 years young on Monday – is likely to have his theory tested out as he plans on aiming Usain Bowler at the Group One Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes over 1400m at Caulfield on 21 September.

“He (Usain Bowler) will probably run again in three weeks and I might find another one for him at the Valley before the Rupert Clarke,” Sadler adds. “It (Rupert Clarke) might be a pipedream but that was a very good effort on Saturday after being badly held up for a run in the straight and I’ve always thought he’s a pretty fair horse.”

Sadler should know. Taking out his trainers’ licence in 1978, Sadler has saddled up some outstanding gallopers in his time including Efficient, Zipping, Jolly Old Mac, Stradbroke winner, Linton, dual Group One winning sprinter Lady Jakeo (“probably my favourite horse”), Kenvain and Scandinavia (granddam of Black Caviar).

Usain Bowler, meanwhile, was purchased at the 2016 Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale for $170,000 by Robert Smerdon and Sadler was quick to praise the former trainer for “all his early work with the horse”.

Since splitting from the Aquanita stable in April, Sadler has also trained last month’s Group Three Sir John Monash Stakes winner, Oak Door, but clearly has an affinity for Usain Bowler.

“He’s just such an honest horse, always gives his best and, what’s more, he has a terrific bunch of owners,” Sadler concludes.

One of those owners is editor-in-chief, Stephen Brassel, former turf editor of Sydney’s Telegraph, son of long-time Daily Mirror turf editor, Tom, and brother to Sky Channel’s Tony and Racing NSW’s Mark (yes, there’s a few of them!).

Brassel was also media, public relations and communications manager of the AFL’s Sydney Swans for 14 years and would, later, introduce Luxbet during his stint at Tabcorp.

“I’ve probably owned a couple of dozen horses over the years, including Lion of Belfort, who ran third behind Zoustar in the (Group One) Coolmore,” Brassel reveals. “Usain Bowler gets his moniker as he’s owned by members of the Port Melbourne Bowling Club.

“They’ve had a few good horses over the years, including (multiple Group winner) Fontein Ruby, but they also raced The Bowler (a Group winner of eight races and close to $500,000 in stakes).

“Ever since then, they’ve named everything ‘Bowler’ and we purchased a Sacred Falls colt earlier this year which, registrar permitting, will be named Sacred Bowler.

“Former Sydney Swans chairman, Richard Colless has come into the colt, along with good mate (and Racenet/Breednet co-founder) Glenn Robbins plus Swans legend, Bernie Evans.

“They reckon we’re having too much fun without them!”

The Power of Passion