The Master & the Budding Apprentice

Date: 22 Nov 2022

The Master & the Budding Apprentice


Although sidelined until 10 December, Te Akau stable rider Opie Bosson is itching to get 'back to work'.

The national record-holder for Group One victories (87), Bosson was just getting into his stride this season before being sidelined after an incident on 15 October at Hastings.



Working on his farm and helping look after the children: Max (3) and Honor (3 months) is keeping Bosson busy, but there remains a sense of frustration at not being able to ride on race days.

“It's probably one of the only jobs in the world where they take your wage off you each week when you're stood down from riding,” he said.

“You don't get paid while you're off, but we've lucky we've got the farm.

“We've got plenty of grass and I've got a few dairy grazers here and some cows and calves of our own. Plus, we breed Speckle Park beef cattle and we've got a few of those too.

“It's frustrating, because I was in front in the Jockeys' Premiership then and now I sit back and watch everyone pass.

“Emily (Bosson) went to work last weekend in Australia, so I've been looking after the kids and everything here.”



While it's no secret that Bosson has fought weight issues during his career, the current regime of riding work, trials, and working out in the gym at Te Akau Stud is keeping things in check.

“I ride about 15 a morning when I go and ride gallops at Matamata, I'm keeping fit at the gym, too, and my weight's pretty good at the moment,” he said.

“I'm due back on Waikato Cup Day and Mark (Walker) will have some nice horses for the meeting, but it takes a little while to get your eye back in.

“But, I'll be riding about 15 in two lots of trial meetings before then so that should help.”

Bosson was apprenticed to Te Akau, beginning his riding career at a similar time in the late '90s to trainer Mark Walker, and the pair share a close bond.



“We're good mates and we work well together,” Bosson said. “We've still got plenty of firepower to come out of the stable and hopefully my return will coincide with good weather through the summer until after Easter.”

The reign with Te Akau has extended to a mentorship with principal David Ellis CNZM, and Bosson recounted a couple of highlights the partnership has experienced with Group One winners.

“King's Chapel was a very good horse that Dave bought and it was quite special winning the 2000 Guineas on him,” Bosson said.

“Distinctly Secret, I won the Kelt Capital Stakes on him and he was a great horse for the stable when it was getting underway, and also Princess Coup, who won the Kelt Capital Stakes twice when it was a $2 million-dollar race. And we won the Stoneybridge, the lead-up to that.



“Of course Darci Brahma, although I was having some weight issues and couldn't ride him in the 2000 Guineas, I got on him for his last two starts which were both Group One wins.

“I'd like to ride 100 Group One winners before I retire and Te Akau has the quality horses to help me achieve that. I just have to make sure the body and mind holds up to it.

“I feel pretty good at the moment, but just a bit frustrating being on the sidelines.

“It's not easy for some trainers to find suitable riders at the moment and suspended rider's doesn't help, but we have some additions to the riding ranks through the initiatives of Daniel Nakhle and Donovan Mansour and the Jockey Academy they've formed. Those boys are a real asset to New Zealand racing.”

In more recent times, Bosson has ridden Te Akau-trained Group One winners in New Zealand and Australia, the likes of dual Horse of the Year Melody Belle (Commands) and Avantage (Fastnet Rock), who between them won 23 Group One races, Gingernuts (Iffraaj), Te Akau Shark (Rip Van Winkle), and current Horse of the Year Probabeel (Savabeel).



Meanwhile, Te Akau apprentice Niranjan Parmar is also making a great fist of his chosen career in the saddle and notched three wins last Saturday at Awapuni.

“I ended up having three wins out of four rides,” he said. “I was booked for seven, but Te Akau scratched their horses when the track was heavy.

Parmar was born in a village in Rajasthan, but raised in Mumbai. He attained his jockey licence in India, and had 60 rides before coming to New Zealand.

“I started working here in a breaking yard, but was seeing Te Akau horses and knew they were the top stable so I approached Jamie (Richards) and asked for a job.



“I'm getting on nice quality horses and I feel I've matured at the same time, so I'm very pleased to be riding winners.”

Earlier in the year, Parmar rose from virtual apprentice obscurity with two tremendous winning rides on Wellington Cup Day at Trentham, and the tall, willowy, lad showed his confidence was blooming with a brilliant ride aboard Perfect Scenario (Iffraaj) to win the Rating 74 1550 metres on 11 February at Awapuni.

“Mark (Walker) is a really nice person to work for and he really helps me,” Parmar said. “He has been getting me to practice changing the whip over to use in both hands, so I've been doing that in trials and now in races.



“Noel Harris (Riding Master) helps us at Apprentice School and goes through our rides on video to point out what we are doing right and wrong.

“Michael Thompson is managing my rides and he's doing a good job. We started working together this season and he's getting me on horses for other trainers when I don't have a ride for Te Akau.

“After Saturday, I've had 41 wins so my claim now drops to two kilos. It's a really happy time to be here in New Zealand, and riding winners. I've got a lot of things to learn, but it's all working out pretty well.

“I watch the top jockeys and people tell me, first, you've got to balance your horses, then you ask them to run. So, I try to follow what they say and it's working pretty well at the moment.

“I try to be patient. When I won on Hero Worship at Matamata, I was last but I gave him a slap on the shoulder and he responded so I stayed patient and was lucky to get gaps between horses.”



Parmar experienced his first stakes' success earlier in November when Seajetz (Iffraaj) won the Karaka Classic (Listed, 1500m) on Melbourne Cup Day at Pukekohe. The victory was fitting, with the horse owned by Sandra and Bill Duell, trained by family friend Paul Richards, being purchased by David Ellis CNZM.

“He had a couple of wins earlier but he was still quite immature,” Parmar said.

“He has continued to get better with age and he's in a Group Three this Saturday at Te Rapa, and I'm on and really looking forward to the ride."


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