Star jockey Opie Bosson is inching his way closer to a return to raceday riding.
Bosson has effectively spent two months on the side-lines after his home south of Pukekawa was deemed as being in the Auckland region for COVID-19 lockdown purposes.
The 41-year-old gained an exemption to relocate to Te Akau Stud in west Waikato three weeks ago.
Despite being in a part of Waikato that remains under Alert Level 3, the move will enable the champion hoop to ride at Te Rapa and Cambridge meetings, with those tracks also operating at the same alert level.
Bosson is not a natural lightweight and with the support of Te Akau principal David Ellis has been working hard to get back to racing trim.
"It's just been frustrating really, not knowing where we're at," Bosson said.
"I've found it harder the last few weeks, where I've been losing weight.
"David and I have been on a very strict diet and I've been training hard every day in the gym and going for runs all around the farm. I'm just keeping busy and eating properly and keeping the fitness up."
With 83 Group One victories to his name, Bosson is looking forward to getting back to the races and has earmarked Monday's Labour Day racemeeting at Te Rapa for his return.
He credits Karyn Fenton-Ellis for smoothing the way for his return, having assisted the top jockey with the relevant paperwork.
"Karyn's been amazing. We had to do everything properly to get myself based in the Waikato, applying through the appropriate government channels," Bosson said.
"I haven't sat on too many horses in the past couple of months. I rode five at the jumpouts for Peter and Dawn Williams, but other than that I haven't sat on a horse other than Gingernuts, who is used as a lead pony for the young ones here at Te Akau."
Bosson has been separated from his young family over the past few weeks, as well as his sheep and beef farm, but is making the most of his sacrifices by immersing himself in farm-life on the 4000 acres at Te Akau, which in addition to horses is home to a large sheep and cattle operation.
"It's my full time job. I've been grubbing thistles, spraying, driving a tractor, drenching – I've been doing all sorts," Bosson said.
"I learn heaps off David. If I need to ask him any questions about farming he's willing to help.
"It's not the easiest and I miss my family and the farm. (My wife) Emily's in charge of everything so she's got quite the workload with her job (at Trackside) and looking after a two-year-old (son Max) and looking after the farm."
Bosson has keenly followed the fortunes of the broader Te Akau team, which continues to perform well on both sides of the Tasman, headed by quality mares Probabeel, Kahma Lass and Entriviere.
"You know what Covid has done and you can't do anything about it, so I just cheer them on and it's good to see that they're getting the results," Bosson said.
"If the borders do open, and an opportunity came up, I'd love to do another stint in Aussie next year."
Meanwhile, Bosson is hopeful of a downgrade in alert levels locally to enable him to add to his elite level tally and nominates smart Savabeel colt Noverre as one to follow.
"I'm looking forward to having a ride on him. It looks like he's going well and he'll be a nice 2000 Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) chance." – NZ Racing Desk