Todd Blowes' kids wore hats pledging support for Noble Boy, others preferred Winx. It was a nod to dad and the best horse he's had, maybe ever will have, and a nod to their old man's jockey in the last few weeks, Winx's rider Hugh Bowman.
The moment the man who has held the title of the world's best jockey returned after ambling to victory in the $500,000 Country Championships final, he yelled out congratulations to Noble Boy's owners. The bush boy in Bowman knew what this race meant.
Blowes kept it together after a week where it seemed everything was falling apart. His horse had galloped so badly at Queanbeyan on Tuesday morning that he felt compelled to tell stewards. Futures punters shuddered. Everything seemed OK after a battery of tests, but at the final moment Noble Boy threw a shoe behind the barriers and needed to be replated.
At the 200 metre mark, Blowes needn't have worried as Bowman and Noble Boy ($2.80 fav) sliced through the field to easily account for Lucciola Belle ($26) and Bennelong Dancer ($9).
"He's not a bad one to have on speed dial," Blowes said after Bowman travelled to Muswellbrook to ride Noble Boy in the Muswellbrook Wildcard qualifier. "To be honest with you, I almost wanted to turn away [half-way down the straight]. It was just excitement and what a thrill.
Our plan is to go first-up into The Kosciuszko and we might as well pick these races off.
"To me the pressure has been on. Muswellbrook out of the way was just a big relief. You could only hope he could come here today and do that."
Added Bowman: "He has class, this horse. I know its a grand final for the country horses, its not the Doncaster, not the Queen Elizabeth or Cox Plate but it holds a special place in my heart being from country NSW.
"So thrilled for Todd. The tyres were a bit flat when he missed in the qualifying heat at Goulburn then came through with flying colours at Muswellbrook, and he thoroughly deserved it."