New Zealand news briefs

Bosson nearing raceday return

Star jockey Opie Bosson is inching his way closer to a return to raceday riding. 

Bosson has effectively spent two months on the side-lines after his home south of Pukekawa was deemed as being in the Auckland region for COVID-19 lockdown purposes. 

The 41-year-old gained an exemption to relocate to Te Akau Stud in west Waikato three weeks ago. 

Despite being in a part of Waikato that remains under Alert Level 3, the move will enable the champion hoop to ride at Te Rapa and Cambridge meetings, with those tracks also operating at the same alert level. 

Bosson is not a natural lightweight and with the support of Te Akau principal David Ellis has been working hard to get back to racing trim. 

“It’s just been frustrating really, not knowing where we’re at,” Bosson said. 

“I’ve found it harder the last few weeks, where I’ve been losing weight. 

“David and I have been on a very strict diet and I've been training hard every day in the gym and going for runs all around the farm. I’m just keeping busy and eating properly and keeping the fitness up.”

With 83 Group One victories to his name, Bosson is looking forward to getting back to the races and has earmarked Monday’s Labour Day racemeeting at Te Rapa for his return. 

He credits Karyn Fenton-Ellis for smoothing the way for his return, having assisted the top jockey with the relevant paperwork.

“Karyn’s been amazing. We had to do everything properly to get myself based in the Waikato, applying through the appropriate government channels,” Bosson said. 

“I haven’t sat on too many horses in the past couple of months. I rode five at the jumpouts for Peter and Dawn Williams, but other than that I haven’t sat on a horse other than Gingernuts, who is used as a lead pony for the young ones here at Te Akau.”

Bosson has been separated from his young family over the past few weeks, as well as his sheep and beef farm, but is making the most of his sacrifices by immersing himself in farm-life on the 4000 acres at Te Akau, which in addition to horses is home to a large sheep and cattle operation. 

“It’s my full time job. I’ve been grubbing thistles, spraying, driving a tractor, drenching – I’ve been doing all sorts,” Bosson said.

“I learn heaps off David. If I need to ask him any questions about farming he’s willing to help.

“It’s not the easiest and I miss my family and the farm. (My wife) Emily’s in charge of everything so she’s got quite the workload with her job (at Trackside) and looking after a two-year-old (son Max) and looking after the farm.”

Bosson has keenly followed the fortunes of the broader Te Akau team, which continues to perform well on both sides of the Tasman, headed by quality mares Probabeel, Kahma Lass and Entriviere. 

“You know what Covid has done and you can't do anything about it, so I just cheer them on and it's good to see that they're getting the results,” Bosson said.  

“If the borders do open, and an opportunity came up, I’d love to do another stint in Aussie next year.”

Meanwhile, Bosson is hopeful of a downgrade in alert levels locally to enable him to add to his elite level tally and nominates smart Savabeel colt Noverre as one to follow. 

“I'm looking forward to having a ride on him. It looks like he’s going well and he’ll be a nice 2000 Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) chance.” 

Funny Girl continues strong run for Noble

Karaka trainer Lance Noble might be frustrated by the on-going Auckland lockdown, but can take solace from the fact his horses continue to perform well on the racetrack. 

Noble has sent out six winners from his past 15 runners, despite not be able to be on-course himself on raceday, and that trend continued on Sunday when three-year-old filly Funny Girl ran out a ready winner over 1215m. 

“She had won first-up on the synthetic and then in the Gold Trail (Gr.3, 1200m) I just don’t think she copped the off-track down there,” Noble said.

“We gave her a bit of time to get over the trip to Hastings and she was strong yesterday back on reasonable footing.”

A daughter of Showcasing, Funny Girl is likely to have a break now before being set for the Gr.3 Almanzor Trophy (1200m) on Karaka Million night, a race sponsored by Noble’s employers, Cambridge Stud. 

“I don’t think she’d get a Guineas trip (1600m), and you’re a bit limited in options if they don’t go that far,” Noble said.  

“We will back off her for a week and then make a plan backwards from Karaka Million night.”

Noble is pleased with in-form gallopers Ziegfeld and Marchand, who will take on stakes company at Matamata and Te Rapa respectively over the long weekend.

“Ziegfeld will run in the Soliloquy (Gr.3, 1400m) on Saturday and Marchand will head to the Sarten (Gr.2, 1400m) at Te Rapa on Monday,” he said.

“Ziegfeld has just kept stepping up and keeps winning. I think she has improved too. Once she saw Mustang Valley run past her, she saw her with the blinkers on and fought back and won. It is encouraging because she wants to win. 

“The fact she won at Matamata last start is a plus, and she handles a bit of give if there is rain around.

“Marchand won his last start at Te Rapa on a bit of an off track but is a really nice horse going forward.”