Star jockey Opie Bosson has had a week to remember, riding another two Group 1 winners at Ellerslie on Saturday to go with his brace in Sydney seven days earlier. Within the space of just over a week, Bosson has won the Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m) on Probabeel, Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) on Te Akau Shark, Group 1 Sistema Stakes (1200m) on Cool Aza Beel and Group 1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes on Avantage.
All of that Group 1-winning quartet are trained by Jamie Richards, and all were bought at Karaka by Te Akau Racing principal David Ellis. “It’s been a huge week,” Bosson said. “The team’s absolutely flying at the moment, and I’m very fortunate to be a part of that. We’ve got a lot of extremely nice horses – some of the very best in the country. I’m lucky to be able to ride them.”
Cool Aza Beel became the first two-year-old since Vespa in 2013 to complete Ellerslie’s Karaka Million-Sistema Stakes double. In between those two 1200-metre features, he was a beaten favourite behind stablemate Need I Say More in the Group 3 Waikato Stud Slipper (1200m) on rain-affected ground.
“He’s professional and a real racehorse,” Bosson said. “He has a huge will to win, and he really pins his ears back and sticks his neck out. That was another very strong win yesterday.”
The New Zealand Stakes was a fourth Group 1 victory for Avantage, who has now won races at the elite level over 1200, 1400, 1600 and 2000 metres. Within the space of seven weeks, she has broken 1:08 to win the Telegraph (1200m) at Trentham and beaten a strong field of weight-for-age performers over 2000 metres at Ellerslie. “I was always extremely confident she’d get the 2000 metres,” Bosson said. “She’s always relaxed very nicely in her races. “The draw helped yesterday and we were able to put her to sleep on the rail. She relaxed beautifully and just switched off. Once I got her into the clear, she quickened really well and ran the distance out strongly.”
Avantage’s win at Ellerslie prompted comparisons with her 10-time Group 1-winning stablemate Melody Belle, who won last year’s Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes in her own first attempt at 2000 metres. “There are some real similarities in the types of racehorses that they are, and this mare really seems to be following in Melody Belle’s footsteps at the moment,” Bosson said. “Obviously she’s still got a long way to go, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she matched a few more of her achievements.”
A year after Melody Belle won the Karaka Million (1200m) and Group 1 Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m), Avantage emulated that same double. In February and March of last year, Melody Belle won the Group 1 Haunui Farm WFA Classic (1600m) and Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes, and Avantage has won the same two races in her last two starts.
Bosson has now won 74 Group 1 races in his career, and Probabeel and Te Akau Shark were his seventh and eighth in Australia. Most of those trans-Tasman triumphs have come within the last five years aboard the likes of Mongolian Khan, Turn Me Loose, Gingernuts and Melody Belle.
Now, after his starring role on home turf on Saturday, Bosson will be back in Australia for the next two weekends. He will partner Melody Belle in the A$5m All-Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield this Saturday, then return to Sydney for Te Akau Shark’s shot at the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on March 21.
“I can’t wait to get back on Melody Belle in a $5 million race next weekend,” Bosson said. “I’ll fly over to Melbourne tomorrow so I can gallop her on Tuesday, and then I’ll fly back over again on Friday for the race. “Then we’ll be back in Sydney the weekend after that to ride the Shark. It’s a very exciting time for the whole team. “But at this stage I don’t have any other rides lined up in Australia outside of the Te Akau horses. It’s not easy for a New Zealand jockey to pick up rides over there.”