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'He's another AP without a doubt' - praise for Bowen after Lanzarote win

He is still only 16 years old but James Bowen was compared to Tony McCoy on Saturday after the teenager followed up his Welsh Grand National triumph with another brilliantly executed ride to win the 32Red Lanzarote Hurdle.

The acclaim for his victory on Raz De Maree at Chepstow a week earlier had barely subsided when the conditional secured another historic prize by partnering topweight William Henry to victory at Kempton.

Bowen's 5lb claim proved invaluable as he steered the Dai Walters-owned horse to the front between the last two hurdles and after a bold leap at the last drove out William Henry to hold Spiritofthegames by three-quarters of a length, with Red Indian third and Topofthegame fourth. 

Bowen does not turn 17 until March and is now only two wins short of reducing his claim to 3lb.

Walters said: "That boy is going to be another AP without a doubt. For a 16-year-old it is unbelievable."

He said he had even had thoughts about retaining Bowen. "That has been talked about," he added.

Bowen's win on William Henry, switched back to hurdles after pulling up on his chasing debut, was his most significant so far for his boss Nicky Henderson, who watched the race from Scotland, where he was getting married.

The jockey said: "I couldn't do it without Mr Henderson and Dave Roberts my agent and all my family behind me. I didn't really think I could be riding or even winning these races at the start of the season, but Mr Henderson gives you the opportunity and it's been amazing.

"I've done plenty of schooling with William Henry since his run over fences, when I think he might have scared himself a bit. He's jumped really well today and there's no reason why he can't go over fences again."

Henderson's assistant Toby Lawes said: "Cheltenham last time really just knocked the horse's confidence. From the start that day it was not going right.

"He showed so much ability over hurdles last season so he came into this on 145 with a brilliant conditional taking 5lb off. James rode exactly as instructed, bang on the rail, and sneaked a way through. It was an exceptional ride."

He added: "I don't think we would be put off having another crack over fences at some point."

The ultra-consistent Spiritofthegames produced another spirited display under Bridget Andrews to continue on his path towards the Cheltenham Festival.

Owner Norman Lake said: "I’m absolutely delighted. He never runs a bad race. He will make a lovely chaser but before that the plan has always been the Coral Cup."

 

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