Champion jockey Glen Boss on the mighty mare Makybe Diva and their three Melbourne Cups. By Richard Cooke.


The Boss: Glen Boss, 46, jockey

The Melbourne Cup isn’t as big a deal with jockeys as it is with the public. It’s bigger. Much bigger. Have you ever won a gold medal at the Olympics? Or won an AFL grand final? No? They’re the only people who might be able to answer that question. Of what it feels like.

These are the events that you aspire to win from a young age. The hard work and all the dedication. And all the hours. I know it’s clichéd – all the blood, sweat and tears, mate, all those things you’re working towards. I’m so very honoured and fortunate that I’ve been able to climb that mountain a few times.

It’s not a blur at all. I remember the moments with the mare [Makybe Diva]. Just all the little things. I can relive every footstep as it happened. 

After the third one, you create history. It’s like climbing Everest for the first time, you know – you’ve just done something that no one has ever done before. It was quite overwhelming. The biggest occasion, the biggest stage I’ve ever stepped on. That’s for certain.

It’s quite a private moment. I mean it’s just you and the horse. After you cross [the finish line] there’s a couple of minutes there where you are just on your own, you and her. You’ve got people coming up to thank the other jockeys and then all of a sudden you are talking to a reporter, and then all of a sudden you are coming back to the crowd. But that time – I’m talking the first minute after you cross the line – it’s a bit of a quiet time for you and her. There’s a lot that goes on in that minute, though, you know, in your brain. There’s a lot of thoughts being processed, a lot of emotions being processed. 

You accept it will never happen again. A hundred per cent. I’ve accepted that fully. It’s not like you push it to the side, but you just block that one up and put it away knowing that you relive those moments in your mind.

Still, you never stop trying to improve yourself. Never stop trying to achieve goals. I would like to win another cup and I’m striving to do that so I’m driven all the time. You never stop trying to better yourself as an athlete or a person, or all those things. You’ve heard it all before and I’m no different.

I haven’t quite sat down in that big rocking chair just yet. Surrounded by grandchildren telling stories that probably get bigger and bigger as you get older. 

I can remember the first time I sat on a horse. I was very, very young. I was basically in love with them from the first time I saw them. I was just in awe of the animal, they’re just magnificent.

They’ve just got so much charisma, they’ve got power, they’ve got speed. If they want to take you out in a heartbeat, they will take you out. I’m just fascinated by them.

Can you believe Makybe Diva’s last win was 10 years ago? It’s brought up so often, especially this time of the year, but everyone still wants to talk about her as if it happened yesterday. I’m blown away by it, to be honest, it’s still so relevant in everyone’s mind right now, it’s crazy.

What makes Michael Jordan better than the rest? What makes Tiger Woods better than the rest? She was just a great athlete, she had a great set of lungs, she had an amazing presence and she certainly had… she just… At the end of the day, she was just more powerful and faster than everyone else. It’s very rare; you just don’t see it. 

I keep myself real schmick. I work out strong and I eat really well. I eat like a normal person but I train and work out, too, so that helps with longevity in the game. 

The injuries are just part of the industry. You’ve got to accept that and if you don’t, well then don’t do it. We are no different to other athletes, there’s pain, there’s always pain, so you’ve just got to accept it and punch through it and wear it. If you don’t do that, then you’ve just got to go and maybe dig holes for a living or something.

It’s not a contact sport, but it’s a tough sport. It hasn’t changed since racing has been around, nothing has changed, there are going to be injuries and unfortunately there are going to be fatalities. No one likes it. I hate seeing any animal injured. It makes me sick, but it’s just part of what is going to happen.

I just want to be remembered as a decent bloke. I’ve come from a pretty humble background – I’m no intellectual giant, you know. I just recognised that I had a talent and I pursued it. I would rather be known as a great horseman than a jockey. If people can remember me as that, then I’ll be happy.

1 .  

2 . This week’s highlights…

• Horseracing: Victoria Derby Day

Saturday, 1st race 11.45am (AEDT), Flemington, Melbourne 

• Soccer: A-League – Brisbane Roar v Adelaide United

Saturday, 6.30pm (AEST), Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

• Rugby: World Cup final – Australia v New Zealand

Sunday, 3am (AEDT), Twickenham, London

• Formula one: Mexico Grand Prix

Monday, 6am (AEDT), Autódromo Hermanos RodrÍguez, Mexico City 

• Horseracing: Melbourne Cup

Tuesday, 3pm (AEDT), Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne

• Golf: World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions 

Begins Thursday, Sheshan International Golf Course, Shanghai

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on October 31, 2015 as "The Boss".

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Richard Cooke is a contributing editor to The Monthly, and the 2018 Mumbrella Publish Award Columnist of the Year.

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