Glen Boss: The master showman

Glen Boss: The master showman

 

You can’t think about Makybe Diva without visions of her rider popping into your head. So easy to recall in the royal blue, white stars and red and white checks with the fluffy blue pompom and even easier when same rider starts standing high in the irons and madly waving his arms at the crowd while whooping and hollering.

 

Money-mouth face𝗑𝗒𝗧 𝗔 π— π—˜π— π—•π—˜π—₯ 𝗒𝗙 𝗒𝗨π—₯ 𝗣π—₯π—œπ—©π—”π—§π—˜ π—™π—”π—–π—˜π—•π—’π—’π—ž π—£π—”π—šπ—˜ β€œπ—”π—Ÿπ—Ÿ 𝗦𝗣𝗒π—₯𝗧𝗦 π—Ÿπ—”π—§π—˜ π— π—”π—œπ—Ÿβ€ π—¬π—˜π—§?Horse faceπ—§π—›π—œπ—¦ π—œπ—¦ π—ͺ𝗛𝗔𝗧 𝗬𝗒𝗨’π—₯π—˜ π— π—œπ—¦π—¦π—œπ—‘π—š!

 

 

 

Easier still when he is wearing the same-coloured mask, whipping a Flemington crowd of 106,479 into a frenzy in a triumphant and ultimately iconic return to scale that seemed to take an eternity. As an unprecedented third Melbourne Cup victory should.

He is, of course, Glen Boss and he’s been doing that sort of stuff at the top level for nearly three decades. But no more. This Saturday, the 52-year-old will officially retire on 90 winners at group 1 level and thousands more.

His first group 1 success came on Grahame Begg’s early star Telesto in the 1994 Chipping Norton Stakes and in his final one, he partnered the since sadly deceased Sir Dragonet in the Tancred Stakes in Sydney in April of this year.

In between, Boss was rarely from the headlines. He would become one of racing’s most outspoken characters but when all was said and done, with Boss, it was always about his riding and his habit of winning the big races.

His steers on Makybe Diva during her Cups run are timeless examples of pure horsemanship and his sense of utter persistence and never-say-die approach to nearly everything is personified by his head-shaking win in the 2005 Caulfield Guineas aboard God’s Own.

His 90 group 1 winners places him in rare air. Only Damien Oliver, George Moore, Jim Cassidy, Hugh Bowman, Roy Higgins and Shane Dye have won more. Directly beneath Boss on the list are the likes of Mick Dittman and Darren Beadman.

His friends know him as fiercely loyal and just as fiercely competitive in most pursuits. It was that nature that drove Boss through his recover from a serious neck injury sustained in Macau in 2002. His future was far from laid-out for him, so Boss did it for himself.

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The following season back in Australia he shrugged off the doubters with 10 group 1 wins, highlighted by doubles on Makybe Diva (Melbourne and Sydney Cups), Private Steer (All Aged Stakes and Doncaster Handicap) and Starcraft (AJC Derby and Chipping Norton Stakes).

He got another nine the next season and notched 10 again the season after. Each featured that huge smile accompanied by an often highly emotional and slightly manic post-race speech.

Among his best and most insightful orations came after one of his last feature wins in the Cox Plate 13 months ago aboard Sir Dragonet. Like Flying Spur in the Golden Slipper Stakes some two and a half decades earlier, he was a horse he had never seen before leaping aboard him in the moments before the jump.

Just two minutes later, Boss had steered a path through the pack to run clear of the field to clinch a fourth Cox Plate following earlier wins on Makybe Diva (2005), So You Think (2009), Ocean Park (2012).

β€œIt was just auto-pilot the whole time,” he would later say. β€œI don’t know how I get myself in those spots. I don’t know what happens and how I get there.

β€œI just have these moments where it all happens for me and I don’t even think.

β€œI have to pinch myself. It felt too easy for me. I just don’t know how it happens sometimes to be very frank.”

If his 1994 Telesto win was a memorable first group 1 for the country Queenslander, his second thrust him firmly into the spotlight.

On Golden Slipper Stakes morning, Boss was confirmed as the new rider for Flying Spur after the Jockey’s Tapes scandal had taken down Jim Cassidy and a last-minute legal bid had failed.

β€œIt was my second group 1,” Boss once said. β€œI had won the Chipping Norton prior to the Slipper but it was the win I needed to get my career going.

β€œI had just moved to Sydney. It was only my second season there.

β€œI basically had nothing to do with Lee Freedman prior to that point. What I knew of Lee was what I had ready about him in the papers.

β€œThat was the start of our relationship and the rest is history.”

Boss so often looked to have nerves of steel as he drove horses through tight gaps, but those nerves were sometimes brittle. Earlier this year, Boss spoke of his battles with depression and how he came close to taking his own life.

His dangerous and often cut-throat career meant he was literally living on the edge. He would get sacked from high-profile horses yet come back harder each time. Suspensions and injuries – and there were a few of both – just slowed him momentarily.

Boss first came to sporting notice as an early teenager at school at Caboolture High School in Queensland, which boasts the likes of musician Keith Urban and golf major winner Ian Baker-Finch as old boys.

Boss was a noted rugby league player and a runner, who finished third in a state championship.

He also rode at pony clubs until thoroughbred racing took hold of him by the time he was 15 after attending the Gympie races with his grandmother. He became apprenticed to Terry Chinner at Gympie before moving on to the Gold Coast and then onto Sydney in 1995.

He’s been a big player in the big game ever since.

A Zipping Classic win aboard Spanish Mission this Saturday at Caulfield would be a fitting end for a champion rider who has endured so much this spring. From missing out on the Incentivise ride due to quarantine restrictions, to missing a second attempt at a Cox Plate aboard Sir Dragonet, who broke down and was euthanised seven days before the race.

Also, Boss hasn’t ridden a winner since the first week of August and he will not want his glittering career to end with such an ugly void. He will certainly be wearing the trade-mark game-face when he takes Spanish Mission to the barriers as the hot favourite.

With $750,000 on the line, his handful of rivals are sure to hunt him throughout and Boss would have it no other way. One final test of skill and nerve. He would not want to pitter-patter out the door. That’s never been part of the show.