King's Birthday Honour for Opie Bosson

Date: 5 Jun 2023

King's Birthday Honour for Opie Bosson


Te Akau stable rider Opie Bosson has received recognition for his outstanding achievements and services to thoroughbred racing in the King's Birthday Honours List announced on 5 June.


Bosson (42) received notification by letter from Governor General Dame Cindy Kiro GNZM, QSO, of his ONZM (Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for distinguished regional or national role in any field.

For Bosson, the honour comes on the back of his recent induction into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame.

“I was a little bit shocked to start with, but I'm actually quite over the moon to be recognised for my achievements,” Bosson said.

“I really feel like it is an honour given the national recognition, not just within the racing industry.”

Word came as Bosson, wife Emily, and their two children, were getting ready for a week long break on the Gold Coast.

Bosson farms at Pukekohe, with about 130 yearling dairy grazers, and 25 older ones, that get put in calf before leaving.

“I'm getting the farm ready and packing for the flight this afternoon,” he said. “The body and mind needs a rest and now's the time to do it.”

While proud of accomplishments, Bosson was quick to thank people like his Godfather Stephen Autridge, David Ellis CNZM, Mark Walker and Jamie Richards for the opportunities they presented to him.

“I think it's incredibly well deserved,” Ellis said. “It's no secret that Opie has struggled with weight issues throughout his career and he's worked so hard to reach the top and it's very fitting that he is honoured by His Majesty The King.

“He's one of the hardest working blokes you'd ever meet, in racing and on his farm. He's a very good farmer and stockman, and great judge of a horse. He first came to work for me as a young fella and is now an integral part of the Te Akau family. 

“He's proved himself the greatest of all time within the riding ranks in New Zealand, registering a record 90 Group One wins and half those have been on Te Akau trained horses.”

The national record-holder with 90 Group One victories, Bosson is a household name in the racing community and now honoured as one of the greats.

There are few that soak up big race pressures better than Bosson, as his elite wins are testament to, and the combination with David Ellis, Mark Walker, and Jamie Richards has been remarkable.

The star prodigy, who joined Te Akau as a 13-year-old and now contracted stable rider, recently notched his 90th Group One victory aboard Champion Three-Year-Old Imperatriz (4 m I Am Invincible - Berimbau, by Shamardal) in the A$1 million William Reid Stakes (Gr. 1, 1200m) at Moonee Valley, Melbourne - and the five time Group One winner appears a strong contender for Horse of the Year.



Bosson combined with Melody Belle, also inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, to win the 2017 Karaka Million 2YO, paying $32.40, was aboard to win the Sires' Produce Stakes, Empire Rose Stakes, an unlucky second in the Mackinnon Stakes in Australia, and scored six Group Ones on the great mare that won 14 in total to eclipse Sunline (Desert Sun) as the national record holder. 

He also rode another Ellis yearling purchase, the steamrolling mare Avantage (Fastnet Rock), to victory in the 2018 Karaka Million 2YO (Restricted Listed, 1200m), Birthday Card Stakes (Gr. 3, 1200m) at Rosehill, and five of her nine Group One wins.

The five-time Champion Jockey rode his 1000th winner in 2010, surpassed Hall of Fame legend Lance O'Sullivan (62 Group One wins) in 2019, and now has over 2000 wins (1960 NZ, 44 Australia, 31 Singapore, five Hong Kong) that have won upwards of $60 million in stakes.

A world-class rider in any language, Bosson is technically proficient, cool under pressure, in sync on a horse, and his incredible ability to win big races (including four consecutive Karaka Million 2YO) is second to none.



As a 17-year-old, Bosson whet his appetite for winning Group One races aboard Jezabeel (Zabeel) on 1 January 1998 in the Auckland Cup (3200m) at Ellerslie. Jezabeel subsequently won the 1998 Melbourne Cup (Gr. 1, 3200m). 

Bosson rode his first Group One winner for Te Akau aboard Distinctly Secret (Distinctly North) in the 2003 Kelt Capital Stakes (2040m), quickly followed by King's Chapel (King of Kings) in the 2000 Guineas (1600m).

There were multiple Group One successes for the stable aboard Darci Brahma (Danehill), Princess Coup (Encosta De Lago), and King's Rose (Redoute's Choice), before a run starting with Hall of Fame (Savabeel) and Gingernuts (Iffraaj) early in 2017 that has stretched to 35 Group One wins for Te Akau in six seasons - a phenomenal achievement. 

Regarding his rise in racing, Bosson said previously: “I started with Te Akau when I was 13 and it's just grown, and grown, into a pretty big business now. When we first started out, we were trying our best to get owners and horses, but now it's become one of the biggest racing operations in New Zealand. It's very professional and David (Ellis) buys some beautiful horses which makes things easier for me.  



“They have always had a good eye of a horse. Even in the early days, the cheaper horses Dave was buying were still very nice horses. King's Chapel cost $35,000 and became Horse of the Year, and Integrate was another one. All of them, Dave, Mark (Walker), and Jamie (Richards), have all got a great eye for a horse. And now they're able to buy a better quality breed, as well.

“Dave has been really good for me and he's always been someone I can talk to. He's like a second father to me. He knows me as a person and it's good that I can go and talk to him about life in general as well as racing, which helps, and it's been good to continue our relationship since I've returned as stable rider.

“Mark Walker was a big help in the early days of my apprenticeship. He said: “Just go out there and enjoy yourself. You know what you're doing, just relax and enjoy it”.

So I started doing that and things started going right. Instead of trying to make things happen, and getting panicky, or nervous, I just let things happen and stayed relaxed. I've stuck by that advice and I've enjoyed what I've achieved so far.”



Congratulations Opie, we could not be more proud of you with this recognition of your immense talent, hard work and success.

Opie Bosson ONZM continues King's/Queen's Honours recognition for the Te Akau team with Karyn Fenton-Ellis MNZM receiving her honour in 2014 for services to racing, the Arts and the community.  David Ellis CNZM was bestowed with his honour in 2020 for services to the thoroughbred industry.


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