New boy Opie Bosson out to make a big impression at Sha Tin
Heavyweight Kiwi jockey will be up against it as he competes against ‘Magic Man’ Moreira plus 28 jockeys from around the world in Sunday’s big feature race at the start of his 21-meeting riding stint
If Opie Bosson is truly looking for a test to see if he is up for a full-time contract next term then he certainly has a sense of timing by beginning an end-of-season stint on Sunday at Sha Tin.
Bosson already faces the challenge of being a heavyweight rider, limiting his opportunities, but he debuts on a day when competition will be even more fierce than usual, with a total of 28 jockeys from around the world available for rides at the feature meeting.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Bosson will come from his own body, a minimum weight of 122 pounds putting him in the same category as visiting South African champion Gavin Lerena, who has struggled for chances so far.
Then there is the fact that a guy named Joao Moreira has won more than one in every five races this season and when it is all weighed up, moving from being top of the heap in New Zealand to battling for scraps on the bottom at Sha Tin might not sound that appealing to some.
“Realistically, eight wins would be a good result, and if things are going well I would really like to stay here,” Bosson said at Tuesday’s meet the press gathering at Sha Tin.
“I rode against Joao in Singapore the whole time I was there and he is an absolute superstar and he did the same thing there, so I know what I am up against. I’m here to ride as many winners as I can; I know it’s the end of the season and that’s going to make it difficult, but I will work hard.”
Bosson is slotted in for four rides on Sunday at the first day of a 21-meeting stay that could become the next step for a 35-year-old that has had an on-again, off-again career punctuated by two sabbaticals and a reluctance to leave his own country at times.
More than 1,500 wins and two champion jockey titles in New Zealand have turned Bosson into a superstar in his homeland but it wasn’t until the success of Mongolian Khan – a dual Derby winner and Caulfield Cup conqueror – that the jockey really began looking to broaden his horizons.
“I probably liked the lifestyle back there in New Zealand and that kept me there, but I haven’t got many years left in my career so I thought I would try something different. I’m really excited about the opportunity to come here,” he said.
Bosson is the eighth new face this season to ride on a short term contract and part of the licensing committee’s concerted effort to revitalise the “quality and diversity” of the roster.
“The permanent roster here is of such exceptional standard that the quality of a visiting jockey needs to be very high for a visiting jockey to come here,” said Andrew Harding, the Jockey Club’s executive director of racing authority. “In terms of the diversity, it reinforces a very special part of the Hong Kong racing character, which is its international flavour.”