New Zealand jockey Opie Bosson knows the time is right for Melody Belle to stop racing. But it didn’t mean he wasn’t affected by it.
Melody Belle ended her racing career at the weekend when finishing fifth in Bosson’s hands in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m), finishing as well as anything behind the runaway winner Zaaki.
She was subsequently sold at auction for A$2.6 million to the Written Tycoon Syndicate.
Bosson rode Melody Belle in 16 of her 40 starts, scoring nine wins and three minor placings. He was unbeaten on her in eight starts and was sad he wouldn’t partner her again.
“I think the timing was right to retire her now, and she’s gone out safe and sound,” Bosson said.
“She’s meant a lot to myself and my family. She’s given us a lot of thrills and you knew every time you go out on her, she was going to give you everything.
“It was quite emotional actually, riding her for the last time.”
He said the two races that stuck out most were her 2017 Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) victory (at +3140 – odds she wouldn’t get near again) and her Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) victory in Melbourne two years ago.
“The Karaka Million was my first ride on her and I’d only just become stable rider for Te Akau, and I really wasted hard to ride 54.5kg on her, so for it all to pay off was quite a buzz,” he said.
“And in the Empire Rose she showed them that she was up to the top fillies and mares at weight-for-age level in Australia.”
Melody Belle was purchased by Te Akau principal David Ellis for NZ$57,500 out of Haunui Farm’s 2016 New Zealand Bloodstock Premier Yearling Sale draft on behalf of Fortuna Syndications, for whom she raced for throughout her illustrious career, which included a record 14 wins at Group One level.
Bosson had three rides at Doomben on Saturday. He also piloted the Mike Moroney-trained mare Tofane into second place in the Group 3 BRC Sprint (1350m), and was on Signora Nera as she finished an unlucky fifth in the Group 2 The Roses (2000m).
“We drew barrier one and she was held up turning in, and even halfway up the straight I had to ease again, and just before the line I had to take a hold as well,” he said of Signora Nera’s effort.
“Going to Eagle Farm and running 2400m will be really good for her.”
Bosson will return to Brisbane to partner Signora Nera in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2200m), and possibly Tofane in the Group 3 Queensland Sapphire Stakes (1600m).
However, he has no plans to spend extra time in Queensland this winter, saying he will take opportunities as they come.
Bosson has ridden 15 black type winners in New Zealand this season and his mounts have earned more than $2 million, behind only Danielle Johnson, Craig Grylls and Sam Collett.
He also has the best strike rate in New Zealand, but he still rates it as a disappointing season because he didn’t get down to a good riding weight until late spring.
“I pretty much missed the first three months, and I don’t want that to happen again next season,” he said.
“I won’t be going on a big holiday for too long this winter. I gave myself enough of a holiday at the beginning of the season.”