With a record three back-to-back Melbourne Cup triumphs and more than 80 Group 1 victories, Glen Boss is considered Australia’s most accomplished and successful ‘big-race’ jockey.
Inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2015, his feats of piloting the great mare Makybe Diva to victories in the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Melbourne Cups – as well as his three Cox Plate triumphs (Makybe Diva 2005, So You Think 2009 and Ocean Park 2012) – has not only guaranteed Boss a celebrated place in Australian turf history but rewarded his determination to return to the saddle after a serious race fall threatened his career.
His successive trio of Melbourne Cup victories ensured him a place in racing immortality – no other jockey has achieved this momentous feat in the 151-year history of Australia’s most famous race. Boss rode more Group One winners during the 2004-2006 seasons than any other jockey.
Although he was based in Hong Kong between 2007 and 2008, Boss answered an SOS from Gai Waterhouse and produced a gilt-edged performance to pilot Sebring to victory in the 2008 Golden Slipper at Rosehill.
With the promise of support from leading stables, Boss returned to Sydney a few months later. By the end of the spring, lack of opportunity had him plying his trade in Melbourne.
Cutbacks to prizemoney, small field sizes and too few stables dominating city racing sent Boss packing. He has found greener pastures in Victoria, winning the coveted Scobie Breasley Medal – voted on by stewards with points allocated on a 3-2-1 basis for the best rides in metropolitan races over a season – and finished third on the premiership table.
The positivity and fierce desire to be a winner that sees him ranked in the top echelon of jockeys, resurrected Boss at a time when his life as a sportsman was threatened by serious injury.
Boss slipped from his mount in torrential rain on a racetrack in Macau in June 2002. The initial medical verdict pointed to an abrupt ending to his high-profile career.
He crashed to the turf, suffering two breaks in his neck that could very easily have led to life in a wheelchair. But the prompt action of a crack medical team and one of the world’s top neurosurgeons enabled Boss to make a full recovery and, after six months in a neck brace, amazingly he was back riding trackwork.
“I was very lucky that such a skilled medical team was on hand in Hong Kong,” reflects Boss. “Once I knew that I would achieve a full recovery my determination to ride again took control”.
A fall riding trackwork at Flemington in September 2011 handed the champion hoop yet another recovery challenge.
Riding Crystal Lily – the 2010 Golden Slipper winner collapsed and died during the workout – Boss fell heavily fracturing his left shoulder, an injury that later required a plate insertion and 10 screws. He was out of action for five months, but has since returned to top form from his Melbourne base.
Boss made his debut as a senior jockey in 1990 in his home state of Queensland.
To him, the triple Melbourne Cup victories aboard Makybe Diva and his three Cox Plate wins stand out as his most important achievements in the saddle.
“When I won the Melbourne Cup in 2003, I thought ‘thank God I’ve done it’ because it’s every jockey’s ambition to win this race,” says Boss. “Knowing that you ended your career as a top jockey without winning Australia’s No. 1 horse race would leave you with a hollow feeling”.
Twelve months later, Boss lined up for the 3200 metres classic knowing that victory would ensure him a place in Australian turf history.
“Winning in 2004 was an unbelievable experience,” he says. “To me it was ten times a greater achievement than the year before. I just knew that Makybe Diva could do it if the circumstances were right. She’s got a great set of lungs, great temperament and the incredible ability to sprint at the end of two miles”.
When he dismounted after his sensational 2005 journey on the now-retired all-time champion mare, Boss exclaimed: “The final 300 metres was a surreal feeling as I knew she was about to create racing history. I just feel privileged to be her rider. I’m just a small part of this. I’m the lucky bloke they throw onto the saddle and steer her around. She does the job for me. The association I have had with Makybe Diva has been the most exciting part of my professional career. I owe her everything. I told Lee (trainer Lee Freedman) that if we get a soft run and get to the front early in the straight I was going to get on my bike and have them try and chase us down”.
Hall of Fame trainer Freedman’s view on the Boss factor? “His rides in the Melbourne Cup should be bottled up and studied. They have been perfect rides. He is an excellent big-race jockey. He gets into this ’zone’ he talks about and keeps producing the goods”.
Beaudesert-born Glen Boss has had a special relationship with horses since he was a toddler growing up on the family’s cattle property at Caboolture. As a youngster he won stacks of pony club awards and also did his share of breaking in horses. Leaving school at 15, he moved to Gympie to start his riding apprenticeship and after riding 60 winners in less than 10 months he moved on to the Gold Coast where success followed him. Boss moved to Sydney in 1994 – and that is where his star-studded career really began to flourish. Wins in the Golden Slipper aboard Flying Spur and in the Chipping Norton Stakes riding Telesto in 1995 signalled that a special horseman had arrived on the scene.
Away from the track, Boss has built a steady following with his inspirational corporate presentations. A keen all-round sportsman who enjoys playing tennis and golf and watching his favourite rugby league team, the Brisbane Broncos, Boss and his wife Sloane have two children, Tayte and Carter.