The 2018-19 season will live long in the memory of leading New Zealand jockey Opie Bosson.
The talented rider, currently world-ranked 38, went on to win six G1s, taking his tally to 65, surpassing Hall of Fame jockey Lance O’Sullivan’s previous NZ record of 62 G1 victories.
“It wasn’t a goal initially, but when I found out I was pretty close to it I was hungry to get it. I thought it was a great achievement to knock him off because he was a freak,” Bosson said. “When Lance broke his leg I ended up becoming stable rider for O’Sullivan’s and Lance taught me a hell of a lot while I was there.
“Obviously I now want to ride as many Group 1 winners as I can.”
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Bosson, with Te Akau’s retained rider having struggled with weight issues at the start of the season, tipping the scales at 70kg.
“It wasn’t a great start but [Te Akau boss] Dave [Ellis] and my wife [Emily] helped to motivate me and without them I probably wouldn’t have been able to get back on track,” Bosson said. “I always wanted to get back, but I knew how hard it was to get the weight off and I needed them to give me the push. It took a lot of hard work up at the farm [Te Akau Stud] training with Dave.
“I started with a better diet and started training harder and, once I saw the results happening, I definitely became more focussed. I spent a lot of time in the gym on the treadmill and cross trainer, squats, burpees, all that sort of stuff, and my fitness really improved.
“It was a huge advantage in my riding. When you’re fit, it makes your mind a lot sharper and you can get more out of a horse without pulling up from a race feeling exhausted. I was pulling up as good as gold.”
It has also been a big year for Bosson personally, having married Trackside presenter Emily Bosson (nee Murphy) at the end of 2017, and the couple welcomed baby Max into the world in January.
“It’s been huge motivation,” Bosson said. “We moved onto a new farm a couple of days before Max was born and we won the Karaka Million [with Probabeel] that week, so it was a big week.
“I want to make sure Max has a really good upbringing and enjoys the farm life as well. So, I’ve got to keep getting out there and riding winners to pay for the farm.”
Although he won six G1s this season, Bosson marked the Karaka Million 2YO [1200m] victory aboard Probabeel as his highlight and he believes there is a big future instore for the daughter of Savabeel.
“With everything that was happening, the Karaka Million was probably my favourite win this season. Although it wasn’t a Group 1, wasting to get down and ride 54.5kgs and being a million-dollar race was a highlight,” he said.
“I think she [Probabeel] is going to be very exciting next season as a 3-year-old. She’s got so much talent.”
While Bosson has been pleased with his season, he has also been delighted with the results Te Akau have been getting under the guidance of trainer Jamie Richards, who is in his first season as a solo trainer. “I think it’s been an unbelievable season for Jamie and Te Akau,” Bosson said. “He’s had big shoes to fill and he’s grabbed the opportunity with both hands in his first season as sole trainer.
“He hasn’t missed a beat. There’s a lot of pressure on him and he’s coped with it so well. I’ve got a lot of respect for him and his training and he knows every horse inside and out. When he tells you about one, you know it’s on the mark.”
While conscious of his weight issues, Bosson is planning to remain active, although he is set to take a couple of weeks off to travel to England for a family holiday.
“I’ll keep ticking over at the moment in New Zealand, but we’re taking Max over to see his grandparents in England on June 10, so I’ll be away for a couple of weeks,” he said.
“I don’t want to get too heavy and I want to be ready for the start of the season. But once I’m back, I’ll be into training and getting fit again for the new season with Te Akau.”