RIDING LIKE A BOSS
March 27, 2023
Hall Of Fame jockey Glen Boss knows what it takes to win a big race over the testing Royal Randwick mile.
Winning seven Doncaster Miles, he reflected on how the race steeped in history changed his life forever.
If a horse defined the riding career of Hall of Famer Glen Boss it would almost certainly be Makybe Diva, but if you are looking for a race, then it would surely be The Star Doncaster Mile.
Boss won four Cox Plates, three Melbourne Cups, and two Golden Slippers among his 90 Group 1 successes, but his Doncaster record is remarkable. Across 25 years he had seven Doncaster wins, three seconds, three thirds, two fourths, two fifths and a sixth.
He loved the Royal Randwick mile in the autumn and it loved him back.
“How can you not love this race, it’s got an amazing history. When you look back at the history of this particular race, it is littered with champions,” Boss said.
“When we talk about the big races in Australia we talk about the big four. I’m simply dumbfounded that this race isn’t mentioned in that same sentence.
“To be a major, you have got have a long history, longevity, and you have to be littered with champions. That’s the Doncaster.
“It’s like the Players Championship in golf, everyone knows it is the fifth major and your CV is not complete without it.
“When you win it everyone looks at you differently because you are a Doncaster winner forever, it changes your life as a jockey.”
Boss has won the Doncaster for Australia’s biggest trainers, his first for Gai Waterhouse on Sprint By in 1996, twice for John O’Shea on stars – Racing To Win and Private Steer – before he gave Chris Waller his first group 1 on Triple Honour in 2008.
He would win it again for Waller on Kermadec in 2015, finishing his set, returning from Singapore to win the Team Hawkes-trained Brutal in 2019.
No matter where he was riding in the world, Boss would eye the Doncaster every year. Boss says his biggest advantage was his ability to ride light and loved finding a three-year-old down in the weights, which supplied five of his wins including Haradasun in 2007.
“It was a pretty simple formula that I followed every year. I would put myself in the position to ride light,” Boss said. “I knew the Doncaster was coming around in a couple of months and I knew I had to get myself ready for it.
“I knew I would have to ride 51kg and I would start months out, knowing if I got the opportunity to ride the right horse, I’m going to make sure I would ride the right weight. Not a pound more.
“I could never get enough of this race, I won it seven times and wanted to win eight or nine.”
Boss rode 21 times in the Doncaster and his mounts only started more than 10-1 on four occasions, so there are not many regrets that he left on the track.
While Private Steer in 2004 was the best winner, Shogun Lodge, which provided two of his seconds in 2001 and 2002, was one he wished went one better.
“Private Steer won from an impossible position, I don’t know how she did. I thought we were going to run a good second or third, albeit very unlucky,” Boss said. “She just had something special.
“That’s the thing about the Doncaster – champions do champion things in it.
“I never left the track thinking I should have won Doncaster on one that I rode in the race.
“Shogun Lodge probably should have won because he got interference in 2001, but he did get beaten by a champion in Sunline.
“I actually thought I had won at the post, but that’s what champions do they win the Doncaster and Sunline was too good that day.
“But I should have eight, Think It Over would have won a but was scratched when he played up in the float on the way to the track. That was the flattest I felt on Doncaster day.
“Kerry Parker had got him in with the right weight and he was flying and for the vets to take him out for a scratch on his head was hard to take.
“He showed what a good horse he was winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes the next year.”
The Doncaster gave Boss a timeline on his career from the brash young rider on Sprint By to the old man of the sea look when won Brutal. It gave him great memories and stories to tell.
“With Sprint By, I remember saying this horse will win a Doncaster after he won his maiden,” Boss said. “Probably not the expectation you want to put on a horse.
“But his win was down to Gai. He had a hoof problem leading into the race and couldn’t put it down in a week before the race.
“Gai just said he will be right and somehow got him there on the day at his best, I was just the passenger to her greatness.”
Triple Honour launched the juggernaut of Chris Waller, but Boss played his role in getting the trainer to have confidence in his three-year-old.
“I was riding in Hong Kong at the time and I rang Chris on the back of his last run before the Doncaster and asked if I could ride that horse in the Doncaster,” Boss remembered.
“He said ‘why’ and I said that ‘he will win the Doncaster’.
“His lead-up run I thought was particularly good. No one had sort of seen it but I did and I thought that’s the horse I want to get on in the Doncaster.
“He had 51 kilos, I kind of had an inkling of what he could do. To think I was part of Chris Waller’s first group 1 and not just any group 1, the Doncaster, is a great memory.”
But Brutal gave him more than Doncaster number seven.
“I was over in Singapore in a bad place when I look back,” Boss said. “To get the call ride Brutal was a chance I didn’t think I would get.
“He was the perfect horse with no weight and coming off a second to Winx in the George Ryder and he won like that.
“He got me back here and riding for another couple of years.
“Like I say the Doncaster is special, it changes history.”
By Chris Roots
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