Ready for the Derby: Hugh Bowman is hoping Shards will continue his great run in the Victorian Derby. Photo: Bradleyphotos杭州龙凤论坛m.auWizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all RacingFollow our Derby Day tips to find a winner
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There is a  healthy dose of serendipity when it comes to the Victoria Derby for Hugh Bowman.

He has won the blue ribbon  three times and two have been like his ride this year, Shards, late pick-ups.  “It has been a lucky race for me,” said Bowman, who has won Derbies on Sangster, Lion Tamer and Polanski in the past five years.

“Lion Tamer is the only one I would say I was riding a long way out. I rode him in Sydney first-up and then I missed a couple of runs on him and was back on in the Vase when was a good second,” Bowman remembered.

“Then a week later he came out and scored a huge win on a very wet day. Sangster I was lucky to pick up when they were looking for another jockey after [the] Caulfield Classic. It was the same with Polanski, I picked him up because his jockey was suspended for the Caulfield Classic. I managed to win it on him and retained the ride for the Derby.”

So getting the call up from Godolphin on Sunday morning to ride for them doesn’t faze Bowman. Either does the fact that he was shifted from Etymology to Shards after retained  jockey James McDonald changed his mind on what he wanted to ride in the Derby.

There is not a better jockey in the country than Bowman at the moment and he is riding on a high after winning four of the past five group 1s he has ridden in, including the Cox Plate on Winx.

Bowman is one of the best judges of a staying race in the land as  his Derby record shows. He feels there are similarities in Shards’ Vase second to the effort of Lion Tamer in the same race.

“I take confidence that he ran very well in the Vase last week. My horse ran second and is double figures and the $2.40 favourite for the Derby [Tarzino] ran third,” Bowman said.

“Look, Lion Tamer ran a very similar race to what Shards did in the Vase. I’m not anticipating that he will come out and do what Lion Tamer did but he is a live chance going into the race.”

Tarzino has been the punters’ elect since an impressive win at Caulfield in September and his runs in the Caulfield Guineas and Vase have caught the eye. He looks like 2500 metres will suit but the draw of 10 has to be of concern because of his lack of tactical speed.

Blake Shinn, who rides Lizard Island, made the point that because of the nature of the Derby, where horses don’t stay and drop out, those back in the field often have run their race before they get to the business end.

“I have watched a few Derbies on preparing for the race and horses like Complacent and Criterion got back and gave up too much ground to the leaders,” Shinn said. “They are great horses but they had to make runs that were too long.

“I think you need to be in the first half of the field and my bloke [Lizard Island] is going to be from the good draw.”

Lizard Island was runner-up in the Caulfield Guineas and Caulfield Classic, which would usually entitle him to a single-figure quote but he is $13 at Crownbet.

“I think people believe he is suspect at the trip but watching his last run in the Caulfield Classic over 2000m, I’m comfortable,” Shinn said. “I thought he was fairly strong at the end of 2000m after doing some work and he is going to get the gun run from the barrier on Saturday.”

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