Big race jockey Craig Williams has picked up the ride on Kiwi colt Highlad in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Williams replaces the suspended Damien Oliver who failed in his appeal to have a twenty meeting suspension for reckless riding overturned by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Oliver was found guilty by Racing Victoria Stewards of reckless riding when he moved out abruptly at the 700m on his mount Flying Artie, causing severe interference to Dean Yendell’s mount Ken’s Dream.
Flying Artie went on to score an impressive win in the Group 3 $350,000 Catanach’s Jewellers Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on October 12 and will start as one of the favourites in the Group 1 $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Oliver also failed with his appeal to the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board and will have to serve out his twenty meeting suspension before he can resume riding on Melbourne Cup Day next Tuesday.
Oliver had been aboard the Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman trained Highlad for his two Australian starts which resulted in a third to Wine Bush in the Listed $120,000 UCI Stakes (1800m) at Flemington on October 2 followed by a ninth to Good Standing in the Group 3 $500,000 Ladbrokes Caulfield Classic (2000m) at Caulfield on October 15.
Highlad was a winner of his first two starts in New Zealand and after winning his Maiden at Avondale over 1200m on August 17 went on to win the Listed NZ$60,000 HS Dyke Wanganui Guineas (1340m) at Wanganui on September 3.
Ladbrokes.com.au has listed Highlad as a $19 chance in pre post betting for the Victoria Derby with rival Kiwi three year old Sacred Elixir heading the market order at $3.40 in front of the Robbie Laing trained So Si Bon at $7 and Team Hawkes’ Inference at $8.
The Tony Pike trained Sacred Elixir was installed as the Victoria Derby favourite after returning to the winner’s stall in the Group 2 $200,000 Moonee Valley Vase (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 .
Sacred Elixir scored a solid first up win in the Group 3 $175,000 Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Caulfield on September 24 before failing to figure in the finish when eighth to Divine Prophet in the Group 1 $1m Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield two weeks later.
Early market order for the Victoria Derby at Ladbrokes.com.au: $3.40 Sacred Elixir, $7 So Si Bon, $8 Inference, $9 Good Standing, Rocketeer, $11 Prized Icon, Swear, $13 Captain Duffy, $15 Beach Life, Tumultuous, $17 Kent, Morvada, $19 Highlad, $21 Veladero, $26 Wine Bush, $31 Hollywood Mo, $41 or more the rest.