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Glen Boss and the International Jockeys Challenge

by S. Jack Heffernan Ph.D

The great Australian jockey Glen Boss declared today that his participation in the stc International Jockeys Challenge on Friday will be “the last moment I ever ride a racehorse.”

Boss, 52, retired after a stellar career in the saddle last November, but couldn’t resist the chance to ride in Saudi Arabia, a country he has never before visited.

“It was actually the day after I retired that I got the call – if they had asked me two weeks later, I might have said no,” he said. “But it took me about two seconds to say yes. I was thrilled – I’ve ridden in a lot of countries and never been to Saudi Arabia, so it was a great opportunity to come and see how things are done.”

His tally of top-level successes includes three Melbourne Cups on the brilliant mare Makybe Diva (2003-2005), and four Cox Plates (2005, 2009, 2012 and 2020).

Boss said: “I had an absolutely wonderful career; I’m 52 and have been riding professionally for 37 years, and at a very high level for most of that. I felt like I had a lot more to do in racing, but it wasn’t to do with race-riding and to do that, I had to step away from riding itself. I just knew that I was starting to mentally stray.

“To be at that great level all the time, you have to be chasing all the way. You have to be more than 100% committed and I was beginning to feel I wasn’t. I felt I was beginning to lose that same energy, that same spark.”

Boss hopes to embark on a second career in the administration of racing in his home country.

“I’ve been looking from the outside in for the past couple of years, at Australian racing in particular, and since I’ve retired, really looking at it from outside the bubble. When you find out what other people think about racing, you look at it with fresh eyes. 

“I’ve got some interviews with really high-profile people back home and I want to bring some stuff to the table. You can take away a lot from a place like this, even small things – they can make a big impact elsewhere.

“I rode a lot in other countries and I think that unless you travel and see what other people are doing, you’ve got no idea. As a rider I would never have learnt so much unless I had travelled; when I came home, I was a better person for it.”

Boss was full of praise for what he has seen so far of The Saudi Cup meeting.

“I’ve been super-impressed,” he affirmed. “I had a good look at the track yesterday and visually I can tell that it’s world-class. I was talking to [illustrious French jockey] Olivier Peslier yesterday and he confirmed that. 

“This carnival is building a lot of momentum around the world for its huge-scale prize-money, so to be here and see it is a fantastic opportunity. The Saudi Arabian people have lofty ambitions and a great vision and want to take this to a big, big level.”

Boss is keen to encourage Australian trainers and owners to consider campaigning horses at The Saudi Cup.

“I am going to take the message back that this is a carnival we should look at supporting. It’s very difficult – we come into a big autumn, and I think Australian prize-money is the envy of most people round the world. But I believe that a good horse from Australia should come here and have a look and try.”

Boss is striving to be ultra-competitive in the International Jockeys Challenge, which pits seven top male jockeys against seven outstanding female jockeys, but once he is back on a plane to Australia, his boots will be hung up once again.

“I’m taking it very seriously – I feel I am representing my country, but I am also representing myself. If I could hold that trophy, it would be a crowning moment in my career. 

“A lot of the other male jockeys in the jockeys challenge I know; a lot of the women I don’t, and I am looking forward to riding against these young women because, as everyone knows, women around the world are really getting their foot in the door and making a huge impact in racing, which I am fully behind. I think the concept of seven men and seven women is a beautiful one because it gives the women a chance to showcase their incredible talents on a world stage.

“But I promise this is going to be the ‘drop the mic’ moment. I’ve had so many calls from Australia asking if this is going to be a door opening for me to start up again, and trust me, it’s not. This is going to be the last moment I ever ride a racehorse, and to get to do it in Saudi Arabia is quite a thrill.”

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