The commitment of champion New Zealand jockey Opie Bosson to ensure he is available to ride Te Akau Shark this weekend cannot be questioned.
The unflappable hoop will link with the star weight-for-age galloper in Saturday’s Gr.1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill after going the extra mile.
Bosson made three quick-fire trans-Tasman trips across a handful of days.
He jetted in to partner Melody Belle into third in last Saturday’s A$5 million All-Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield.
The Te Akau stable rider had not been home long at his Pukekawa sheep and beef farm on Sunday when news broke that the Australian Government would follow New Zealand’s lead and enforce all entrants into the country after midnight on Sunday to self-isolate for 14 days.
“I had just got home and went out on the farm to do my jobs and was out the back of the farm when Jamie (Richards, trainer) rang me.
“He said ‘I’ve got some bad news, you either can’t go to Australia or you have to go right now to the airport’. I went back home and Emily (wife) packed my bag and booked my ticket and I went straight to the airport.”
Bosson said none of it would be possible without the support of his wife, known to racing fans through her broadcast role with channel 7 in Australia and Trackside in New Zealand.
“She is not doing her channel 7 role and she has got a bit of leave from Trackside at home as well, so she is looking after the farm as well as Max (the couple’s one-year-old son).
“We haven’t spoken too much about it, but if she was to come over, she would have to get someone to look after the farm.
“We’ve got around 250 cows that need looking after and we’ve got to feed out each day because it has been so dry. She has had to do a crash course in learning how to feed out. I saw a video of her doing it and it was quite amusing.
“She had trouble with the water this morning, so I had about five phone calls but I think we got on top of that.”
Bosson has been riding the Te Akau horses in trackwork at Randwick but given he had no rides in Sydney on Wednesday he was enjoying a day of light duties.
“I have just moved into an apartment today with Paul Richards, who has arrived up from Melbourne with Melody Belle,” he said. “I go for a walk to help maintain my weight but it is pretty comfortable at the moment.”
Bosson said he had never been associated with so many nice horses at one time and he was relishing the opportunity to partner with the likes of Melody Belle, Probabeel and in particular Te Akau Shark, who is a $2.10 favourite for the A$1 million race on Saturday.
“There is some good prize-money coming up, so I didn’t really want to be missing out on him.
“He galloped nicely on Tuesday and looks a picture. I can’t fault him one bit. I think he is a bit stronger this preparation and he has stepped up to another level.”
Given Te Akau Shark can handle any ground and has a lethal sprint, Bosson doesn’t see any chinks in his armour and isn’t perturbed if the tempo is sedate.
“The forecast is supposed to be okay and the track won’t be too bad I’m picking. I can’t see it being a bad track.
“You always worry about them walking up front when you are riding a horse that settles back like him, but it is only a small field and we won’t be too far off them.”
Bosson will also ride Gr.1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) third Scorpz in the Gr.1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) for Kiwi trainer Stephen Marsh, but he believes staying will be the forte of both Scorpz and fellow New Zealander Sherwood Forest.
“I think he will run well. He hit the line well in the New Zealand Derby and I think when he gets up to 2400m it will be better for him over here.”
The ace jockey will also be reacquainted with quality Chris Waller-trained mare Danzdanzdane, who contests the Gr.1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m).
“I have won two Group Ones on her and I think Kylie Bax (part-owner) was keen to have me on,” Bosson said.
Bosson has been staying with good friend James McDonald since his mercy dash on Sunday and said he had told him Danzdanzdance had gone okay last start but he hadn’t probed him on the Funstar vs Probabeel rivalry, which saw the former come out on top in last week’s Gr.2 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m).
“I think Funstar got it pretty easy whereas Probabeel had to go back on a slow pace. I think she hit the line well on a track that didn’t suit her and I can’t wait to get back on her.”
Meanwhile, Bosson is utilising the services of a respected form analyst and jockey agent while across the Tasman.
“I’ve got Mark Guest on board to manage my rides and I have a few rides organised.
“At this stage I am here right through the carnival and if things go well, I can’t see why I couldn’t even extend and head to Brisbane for the carnival up there. Let’s just hope we’re still racing as I am looking forward to some big rides in the coming month.”