‘One-act show’ as At Witz End demoralises rivals in Yamba Cup

Danny Peisley and the Daniel Bowen-trained At Witz End combined to win Sunday’s Yamba Cup.
Image: Darren Winningham.

It was a fitting result in Sunday’s Yamba Cup at Grafton’s Clarence River Jockey Club. 

Almost ten years on from the late Danny Bowen’s tragic death, his son, Daniel Bowen, scored an emotional win on what would have been his father’s 70th birthday. 

Making it a full-circle celebration of the late trainer’s life and career, Bowen’s former apprentice, Danny Peisley, was in the saddle when racing at Witz End in the Yamba Cup, and it was a ‘one-act show’. 

After mustering good speed from gate eight, At Witz End followed the early leader and $1.70 favourite, Maximum Vortex (Mollie Fitzgerald), into the home turn. 

On straightening, the Lismore galloper exploded to the front and put three-and-a-half lengths on the second-placed Andy (Matthew Palmer, $17), while five lengths back in third was the Terry Commerford-trained Ambridge (Jon Grisedale, $61).

“It was my late father’s birthday, so we were over the moon to win the race for Dad; it was pretty special,” Bowen told NSW Country and Picnic Racing

“Plus, Danny was an apprentice to my father, and we’re best friends; we shared a room as kids, and we’re like brothers.”

It was the eight-year-old’s second start for the stable, with the Epaulette gelding previously trained by Owen Glue. 

Arriving at Bowen’s stable as a ten-time winner, At Witz End is a more than handy galloper; he won the 2020 Casino Cup while notching victories at Grafton, Gold Coast, Ipswich, and Doomben.

Still, his last victory had been in August 2021, so Bowen took a chance on the 58-start veteran when buying him for $10,000. 

“He is an eight-year-old and a new horse to me; we bought him pretty cheaply for $10,000, but it’s always a risk when taking on a horse that’s of an advanced age,” Bowen said. 

“It had been a while since he won a race, and his owners must have thought he was finished, and I was just lucky to know the horse and thought about having a crack with him. 

“His first-up run at the Gold Coast the week before was good, and we wanted to run him there at Grafton on Sunday as we have another race picked out for him soon. 

“He couldn’t have been more impressive. He blew them away, and you don’t expect eight-year-olds to win like that and do it as easily as he did.”

Heading into the Yamba Cup, Bowen was confident At Witz End could win, but he can’t explain why the gelding has settled in so well.

“I thought he would be hard to beat, off his work on Thursday, and that’s how it worked out,” Bowen said. 

“That horse (Maximum Vortex) is a leader and likes to get his own way in front, and my instructions to Danny were to be outside him and pressure him.

“I went in there thinking, if he runs a good race and just wins, that’s good, and then we’ll take him to town.

“Then he came out and won the way he did and filled us with a lot of confidence. 

Daniel Bowen with his father, the late Danny Bowen.
Daniel won with At Witz End at Grafton on Sunday, which would have been Danny’s 70th birthday.

“I can’t put my finger on it, and to be honest, I don’t know what it is that has him racing well. 

“He fitted into my system, and he’s happy and doing well, but I can’t think of one thing that might have made a huge difference.”

Bowen’s team is in excellent form, having brought up a two-state double the weekend prior.

The Lismore stable heads to Ipswich on Thursday with Straya Pride (Kirk Matheson) taking on the 1350m Benchmark 62 Handicap.

Bowen then races on his home track on Saturday, with Backseat Promise nominated for the 1300m Benchmark 50 Handicap.