By Chris Lomon
pauses briefly before a wide smile comes to his face as he repeats the question. “What’s the best part of owning and training horses? Pretty much everything, I guess.”
Standing just inside the main door of the Western Fair Raceway paddock, the 27-year-old trainer is minutes away from starting his night at the London, ON oval.
Bossence will send out a trio of horses on a cool, but not uncomfortable evening at the racetrack.
The native of Arthur, ON, a community of just over 2,400 people that’s situated about 130 kilometres northeast of London, is in the midst of his most successful year to date.
As of December 2, he’s recorded 38 wins as a trainer, accompanied by nearly $220,000 in earnings. Both are career-best marks for the horseman who started out in 2016, a year in which he won a single race, along with three thirds, from nine starts.
“I love the horses,” said Bossence. “It’s always been about the horses for me. You have to love what you do. And I do love it. There are highs and lows, just like anything in life or work, but when you win, it’s about the best feeling you can have.”
That he’s found his calling in horse racing is hardly a surprise.
For as long as he can recall, horses have played a prominent role in his life.
“I’ve always been into horses,” he said. “My grandfather (Lloyd) was involved in the sport and my dad (Ron) was, too. I was always riding ponies. I started with ponies and then gradually got into the Standardbred side of things.
“I grew up around the McNairs,” noted Bossence of the father and son duo of trainer Gregg and driver Doug. “My grandfather had horses with them and so did my dad. Gregg actually sold me my first horse.”
Bossence’s first win as an owner came with a horse by the named of Kukalaka, a pacing son of Dragon Again.
“We bought the horse at a Gregg McNair sale,” he said. “He was a full-brother to a really good horse and had never raced. A couple of guys tried him, but I ended up buying him. It took a lot of time and a lot of patience, but we finally got there.”
Which is an apt way to describe his three years in racing.
While his foray as a trainer and owner started out in modest fashion two years ago, his sophomore campaign gave a glimpse of what was to come in 2018.
In 149 starts in 2017, Bossence won 16 races, along with 59 top-three finishes.
When talk turns to this year, he sports a big grin.
“We have 12 horses right now, 10 racing and a couple of babies,” he noted. “It’s the first year with a couple of babies other than homebreds. It’s been a good year. I can’t really complain.”
Bossence is rarely rankled by a winless night.
Although he’s been in the sport a short time, he understood the highs and lows of racing the day he sent out his first horse.
“You have to take the good with the bad,” he reasoned. “I’ve had horses that have had the eight-hole here at Western Fair and you know it will be tough to win, but they find a way to do it. You get those ups sometimes when you don’t expect them.”
He’s hoping one of those moments comes in the Battle of Waterloo, a stakes race for freshman two-year-old colts that will celebrate its 22nd
edition in August at Grand River Raceway.
“My long-term goal is just like everyone else, to win the big races. One of the goals would be to win The Battle of Waterloo. It’s a home race and I’ve always liked watching it.”
For now, Bossence is focused on the task at hand.
With less than an hour left before the first race at Western Fair, he has to make sure his trio of starters is ready for their respective races.
Before he heads off, Bossence offers up some advice to people considering joining the horse racing ranks.
“If you want to get into this business, you have to love horses,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, it takes a lot of patience, but it’s very rewarding.”
Something he’s reminded of as he looks towards the track and the horses warming up before first post.
“Ever since I’ve been in horse racing, the feeling never changes. When that gate unfolds, your heart starts beating like crazy. It’s always the same. When they go in behind the gate, it gets your adrenaline going. It’s amazing.”
Main photo by John Watkins