King's Honour 'is for all those who helped'

Date: 5 Jun 2023

King's Honour 'is for all those who helped'


NZ Herald's Michael Guerin reports:


Two years ago, Opie Bosson sat exhausted in the Trentham jockeys' room. So dehydrated he could barely speak, and tired of the constant battle to lose weight — jockeys call it wasting — Bosson wanted to give up.

“I'd had enough, I wanted to give it away,” admits the 42-year-old. “When you waste that much and that often, sometimes you hit the wall and it plays tricks with your mind. I'd just ridden Melody Belle to win a Group 1 and I had nothing left.”

The same reservoir of will Bosson tapped into that day and almost every day since has made him one of New Zealand's greatest jockeys, and now an Officer of the New Zealand Order Of Merit.

It comes as recognition of more than 2000 career wins, 90 at racing's highest level of Group 1.

Since that day in Wellington, Bosson has refocused and a career renaissance has followed. Boxes have been ticked, new targets set. He wants to win 100 Group 1 races because it is a ridiculously difficult round number, and then 105 because he has been told Jimmy Cassidy holds the record for a New Zealand-born jockey at 104.



From the time Bosson started to shine as the most baby-faced of teenagers, he wanted to make it into racing's Hall of Fame, because that is where his idols were (pictured above at his recent Hall of Fame induction).

It seemed a crazy goal for a 16-year-old but he joined those idols and friends in the Hall of Fame last month. But no 16-year-old apprentice, no jockey slumped in the riders' room, dreams of being honoured on King's Birthday.

“When I got an email asking if I'd accept the honour, I thought it was a hoax,” says Bosson.

“It is such a big honour, and while I've always had goals, you just don't think about something this big. So I'm very proud but also happy for all the people who helped me because this is for them, too.

“I told my parents when I was really young I wanted to be a jockey and they did everything to make that happen. I owe them so much. Then Stephen Autridge [trainer], who is also my godfather, had a huge role in my career, and David Ellis [Te Akau] has been a huge supporter and friend. They are like second fathers to me.



“And my wife Emily has played such a big part in helping me achieve some of the things I have been able to achieve. To get this honour for them, for all the racing people who have supported me, makes it even more special.”

Bosson is aware of the coming downside, almost certainly starting when he turns on his phone today.

The horse racing fraternity is notorious for their quips and digs, a family who suffer more losses than wins in which humorous ribbing is a second language.

“Yeah, I know what is coming. The boys and girls are going to give me a hard time about this.”


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