Opie Bosson’s decorated riding career has been further acknowledged in the 2023 King’s Birthday and Coronation Honours list.
The champion jockey has been named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for his contribution to the thoroughbred industry.
“I’m very proud, it’s a real honour to be recognised for the things I’ve done on the track,” Bosson said.
“I was a little bit shocked to start with, but I’m actually quite over the moon to be recognised for my achievements.
“I really feel like it is an honour given the national recognition, not just within the racing industry.”
It is the second major credit for the 42-year-old in 2023 having also been inducted into the New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame at a gala dinner in Hamilton in May.
Bosson was born into a racing family in Rotorua with both his father and grandfather involved in the industry and followed the traditional pony and hunt club path.
As a 15-year-old, he took up an apprenticeship with his godfather Stephen Autridge and in the 1996/97 season he rode 75 winners to become Champion Apprentice.
The following term he became the first apprentice since fellow Hall of Famer Noel Harris to claim the senior jockeys’ premiership with 128 winners.
He celebrated his first Group One success aboard Jezabeel in the 1998 Auckland Cup (3200m) and later that year his first in Australia when he guided Grand Archway to victory in the VRC Oaks (2500m).
Bosson, whose career has been interrupted by weight issues, currently sits on 90 Group One winners and the contracted rider to the powerful Te Akau Racing operation is driven by his desire to become the first New Zealand jockey to post a century of elite level successes.
“For sure, I want to get to 100 however long it takes and I was on 91 but lost one,” he said.
He was referring to Tokyo Tycoon’s disqualification in the Sistema Stakes (1200m) after returning a post-race positive result to meloxicam.
“I think my favourite Group One was the Caulfield Cup (2400m) on Mongolian Khan,” Bosson said.
“The likes of Mongolian Khan, Melody Belle, Probabeel, Te Akau Shark, Turn Me Loose, Avantage, Darci Brahma and Princess Coup have been great horses. I’ve been very lucky to ride so many nice ones.”
Bosson has enjoyed a long and successful association with Te Akau Racing and principal David Ellis said the King’s Birthday Honour was richly deserved.
“It’s no secret that Opie has struggled with weight issues throughout his career and he’s worked so hard to reach the top and it’s very fitting that he is honoured by His Majesty The King,” Ellis said.
“He’s one of the hardest working blokes you’d ever meet, in racing and on his farm. He’s a very good farmer and stockman and great judge of a horse.
“He first came to work for me as a young fellow and is now an integral part of the Te Akau family.
“He’s proved himself the greatest of all time within the riding ranks in New Zealand, registering a record 90 Group One wins and half of those have been on Te Akau-trained horses.”
Bosson will now take time out from his riding and farming commitments on his Pukekohe property for a week’s break on the Gold Coast with wife Emily and their two children before he returns to continue his chase for 100 Group One victories.
“The body and mind needs a rest and now’s the time to do it,” he said.