Three-time reigning Emerald Downs champion, Barbadian Rocco Bowen, will miss the start of the new season here in the Pacific Northwest in an attempt to regain full fitness following a recent surgery.
The 29-year-old was forced to undergo the operation to rectify a shoulder injury he sustained last September in a fall during a morning workout.
He subsequently rode with the injury to wrap up his third title later that month but said it was important he now focussed on regaining full health before getting back into the saddle.
“I let the doctor tell me when I am ready. Before, I would ride even though I was still injured. That’s how hungry I am [to succeed],” he said.
He added: “It was really, really hard the first three months [while recuperating]. This was really a difficult change for me. But I am not used to riding with a fresh body. We’ll see what I can do with a fresh body.”
Following on from winning the jockeys championship at Portland Meadows in Oregon, he picked up his first jockeys title here in 2016 by racking up 110 wins and has not looked back since.
He posted a whopping 126 wins to repeat as champion in 2017 before completing a hat-trick of titles last year by accumulating 109 wins to be 38 clear of the second placed Kevin Orozco.
Bowen, who will make history in western Washington with a fourth straight title, said he would be focussing on that achievement once he resumed riding.
“It would mean a lot to me. A lot of people think it’s pretty easy, but it’s very hard,” he pointed out.
“To stay consistent, and rack those kind of numbers up, it’s pretty hard. After a while, people think, ‘It’s easy,’ but that is when you slip up.”
The 2019 Emerald Downs season got underway last Saturday and runs until September 22.