Opie Bosson is just one win shy of joining Hall of Fame jockey Lance O'Sullivan on 62 career Group One wins and he has a gilt-edged chance of levelling up to his former great rival at Ellerslie on Saturday.
The South Auckland jockey racked up his 61st Group One win when he guided the Jamie Richards-trained Melody Belle to success in the Haunui Farm WFA Group One Classic (1600m) at Otaki last month.
He again takes the ride on the Commands mare in Saturday's Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m) at Ellerslie as well as teaming up with favourite Yourdeel in the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1400m) and Melbourne visitor Vengeur Masque in the Gr.1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m).
"It would be nice to get there. Lance ranks as one of our best-ever jockeys, to level up to him would be a great feat," Bosson said.
"It would be nice to do it on Melody Belle too but I won't be thinking about that on Saturday. I'll be just out there doing my job, trying to win nice races."
Bosson began his career in the mid-1990s and rode against O'Sullivan for the best part of eight seasons, forging a great friendship to match their rivalry.
He gets his first opportunity to level up with O'Sullivan aboard Yourdeel, a runaway six-length winner of the Listed Waikato Stud Slipper (1200m) at Matamata last month, having opted for the Dundeel gelding ahead of stablemates Aotea Lad and Equinox.
However, drawing the outside barrier of 11 has added an unwelcome obstacle towards success.
"It just makes things a little more difficult from out there. We just have to hope for luck in running. I would have preferred to have drawn four or five but we can't change that now," Bosson said.
"He was very impressive at Matamata. Once he balanced up and quickened, nothing was going to beat him. He worked really nicely with Aotea Lad on Tuesday and I can't fault him. It's a good field though and I rode Equinox on Tuesday and he worked well. He's the big improver with blinkers on."
Bosson has a soft spot for glamour mare Melody Belle after she carried him to his first Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) win earlier in her career and he's looking forward to seeing her step up to 2000m for the first time.
"She's working nicely but she's such a professional and always does. But she's working as well as she was going into Otaki anyway," Bosson said.
"The way she’s racing, she's well capable of running out a strong 2000m and she's drawn well in barrier five, so she should get a cosy run from there which helps."
Bosson was excited to ride Vengeur Masque in the Auckland Cup, a race he first won in 1998 on Jezabeel.
"Mike Moroney rang and asked if I'd be interested and on form he looks a really good ride,” Bosson said.
“He won well under a big weight at Moonee Valley last start and he's placed over 3200m in Melbourne at Group Two level so that's good form for this." - NZ Racing Desk