THE moment Hugh Bowman moved drew applause and audible gasps of relief from the Royal Randwick crowd.
Bowman, the world's top-rated jockey, had been sensationally dumped from Golden Slipper hopeful Performer about 200m from the finish of the Group 2 $300,000 Todman Stakes (1200m) on Saturday.
The race developed into a tight finish between eventual winner Alymerton and Ef Troop but most race fans were looking back up the track at what was happening with Bowman.
The jockey, famous as the rider of the mighty mare Winx, did not move for about 60 seconds but it seemed interminably longer than that.
Brenton Avdulla wasn't riding in the race and had sprinted from the jockey's room to be first at Bowman's side, joined quickly by the Australian Turf Club Dr John Saxon.
Bowman had been momentarily knocked out by the fall but as he regained consciousness, he lifted his head off the turf and tried to get up onto his elbow, the Randwick crowd broke out in polite applause.
Ambulance officers arrived to tend to Bowman as the jockey's wife, Christine made her way out onto the track. The jockey was said to be concussed, had some minor abrasions, but did not appear to have any broken bones, and was talking.
After about five minutes Bowman was placed on a stretcher, loaded into the ambulance and taken to St Vincent's Hospital. Scans later cleared Bowman of any breaks.
Christine Bowman told The Sunday Telegraph: "There is nothing broken, just mild concussion. They will probably keep him in overnight for observation.''
Fellow jockey Brenton Avdulla, who rushed to Bowman's aid after the race, said: "It makes you sick in the guts when you see something like that. Thankfully, Hugh should be OK.'
As all this was unfolding, Frenchman Jean Dubois, who has been training here for less than 18 months, had just secured a Golden Slipper start for Aylmerton ($17) who had edged out Ef Troop ($3.50) by a long head with Tchaikovsky ($16) just over a length away third.
"It is more than incredible, it is a miracle. You always dream of things like this but don't believe it can happen,'' Dubois said. "You see I'm training five two-year-old.''
Aylmerton ran the 1200m in a brilliant 1m 8.84s, just 0.01s outside Vancouver's race record set three years ago. Vancouver then trained on to win the Golden Slipper.
"He is a very professional horse, he is very relaxed,'' Dubois said.
"As you can see today he was a bit green to get into the rail, a bit scared to get to the rail and he proved today that he can fight so he has everything to make a good horse."
Ef Troop's effort pleased jockey Corey Brown who maintains the youngster will be competitive in the Golden Slipper.
"He ran really well. He's a bit the same as the stablemate (Outback Barbie), he didn't know where they were going in the straight but he'll improve heaps going into the Slipper,'' Brown said.
Performer is already full qualified for the Golden Slipper but yesterday's mishap is not ideal going into the world's richest juvenile race.
TAB Fixed Odds reacted to the Todman Stakes result, easing Performer from $6 to $8 for the Golden Slipper. Aylmerton firmed from $101 to $15 while Ef Troop was $15 into $11.
Estijaab also eased in Slipper betting from $5 out to $7 despite winning the Group 2 $300,000 Reisling Stakes (1200m).
In another thrilling finish, Estijaab ($1.40 favourite) had to fight hard to hold off Pure Elation ($18) to win by a long neck with first starter Sister Sledge ($81) running a blinder on debut for third, long head further back.
Trainer Michael Hawkes said the margin was irrelevant yesterday as the point of the exercise was to win and qualify for the Golden Slipper.
"You only have to win, she has done that and run really good time (1m 9.1s),'' Hawkes said.
"She looked vulnerable on the turn but the thing about this 'girl' is you hit the go button and she really wants to attack the line. She finds under pressure which is so important in a race like the Golden Slipper where there is so much pressure.''
Winning jockey Brenton Avdulla said although Estijaab didn't win by a margin, she was always going to hold off her chasing rivals.
"She pinged the lids and I just decided to ride her like a good horse,'' Avdulla said.
"I was positive on her but from the 700m onwards she was actually floating, waited for me to give her the go ahead.
"She wobbled around a bit but when she felt them get around her she levelled out and her last 100m was her best 100m."
Estijaab, who improved her record to two wins and a close second to Sunlight from three starts, was described by Avdulla as a "gem to ride".
"She's obviously still learning her craft, she hasn't seen a backside before,'' he said. "After riding her today I have no doubt that she will travel better with a bunny in front of her.''
Hawkes and Avdulla both said Estijaab will improve further for the Golden Slipper.
"I thought she looked heavier today than what she did first up, so obviously John and the team have her peaking for two weeks time and I feel like I am on a live chance for sure,'' Avdulla said.
"She's a good filly, she's only going to get better, and she is with a team that have won the Slipper before. I'm just trying to sit there and enjoy the ride. Obviously she's a very valuable filly now."
HILL ESCAPES IN MORPHETTVILLE TUMBLE
VICTORIAN jockey Jack Hill has escaped serious injury after a nasty fall in the opening race at Morphettville.
Hill fell from the Darren Weir-trained Heavenly Thought when it clipped heels making a three wide run at the 700m mark of the race.
Chairman of Thoroughbred Racing SA Stewards Johann Petzer said Hill was conscious and was being taken to the hospital for further observation.
The race was won by favourite Skillful Steps for Richard Jolly with the stable producing the quinella with Modulate running home well into second placing.
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