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Friday, October 24, 2008

Champion Australian Jockey Takes Off His Shoeing Apron to Don Silks

There's something about fillies: Australian jockey (and farrier) Glen Boss has been one of the world's leading money-winning jockeys in recent years. He rode to victory in three consecutive Melbourne Cups aboard superstar mare Makybe Diva. This weekend he rides favorite Samantha Miss in the $3 million Cox Plate.

As America gears up for the Breeders Cup championship races this week, all eyes in Australia will be on the $3 Million Cox Plate to be run at Mooney Valley. In the jockeys' room, however, one pair of eyes will be solemnly focused on the scales.

Remember those gut-wrenching passages in Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit as the jockey tried to come back from injuries and keep his weight down, all at the same time? I remember a joke told by one of the Thoroughbred trainers about flying cross-country with a jockey. The trainer felt guilty eating the airline's peanuts. The jockey took one, and cut it into quarters...and rationed it to last the flight.

Now it's my turn to remember. I was at a farrier convention. The awards banquet followed a buffet dinner. I wasn't in a hurry to eat so I lingered by the bar. Then I heard loud grumbling. The line was halfway through...and the food was gone. All of it.

There couldn't be two people with different eating agendas than a jockey and a horseshoer.

Today, meet a man who is both.

Australian champion jockey Glen Boss has been trying to make the weight so he can ride the favorite--a young filly running against colts--in this weekend's Cox Plate. He'll be riding for his friend, the trainer, but under Australian riding terms, he needed to get his weight down to just (gulp) 47 kilos (103.4 pounds). He would need to lose more than 10 pounds from a body that already was so lean you can't pinch him.

Glen's effort has been poignantly documented in photos by an Australian newspaper. What attracted my attention was seeing a closeup of a jockey's head with the words "Fighting Farrier" stitched into a watch cap.

Yes, Glen Boss used boxing as one of his main exercise routines to drop the pounds. His trainer and advisor was fellow farrier and former Australian welterweight champion Julian Holland. According to the story, they met when shoeing in the Gold Coast region of Australia 20 years ago. Boss was able to put his race winnings to use and sponsor Holland. This year, Holland is returning the favor and training Boss to ride in one of the world's richest races.

The campaign for Holland's title would dub him "The Fighting Farrier" forevermore in Australian boxing history and that moniker certainly fits Boss now, as he emphasis shifts from fighting in the ring to fighting the scale.

Read the full story by clicking here. And stay tuned tomorrow to find out how Samantha Miss did in the Cox Plate.

Looking ahead a few weeks: Glen Boss will try to equal the record of consecutive Melbourne Cup wins when he rides Profound Beauty in that race for Euro trainer Dermot Weld. The race, run at Flemington Racecourse outside Melbourne in Victoria, is worth $5.5 million.

Or at least Glen Boss hopes to: ironically, the star filly who is willing to take on the colts in Australia's richest race is questionably sound with a bruised foot. Maybe Boss can take a look.

Glen Boss, left, spars in the ring with fellow farrier Julian Holland, former welterweight champion boxer of Australia, whose quest for that title was sponsored by Boss's race winnings.

Be sure to visit the photo gallery documenting what he's going through to make the weight. Click here to see 28 photos of a determined man.

Photos credit for this blog post:

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing. This post was originally published on 23 October 2008 at

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