Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver showed that he is ready for the Spring Carnival with a winning return to the saddle after a ten months absence at the Geelong Synthetic meeting today.
At his first ride back Oliver produced a perfect ride on the Mick Price trained $1.35 favourite Lion Of Belfort to clear out in the straight for a four lengths victory in the 1100m Maiden Plate.
Today was Oliver’s first day back riding after stewards sent him out for placing a $10,000 bet on Miss Octopussy at Moonee Valley in 2010.
Oliver was handed an eight month disqualification plus a two months suspension and he has been working hard at track work and trials for his comeback.
“I’ve done a lot of work and I’ve been concentrating on the things I can control,” Oliver told Racing Network.
“That was a nice win – he’s got a good future that horse, he won pretty comprehensively.”
“I’ve got to thank Mick Price for his support and he’s been a good friend for a long time.
“I’ve got to now get my fitness right and re-establish my connections.”
Oliver will be back in the Melbourne Spring Carnival limelight at Moonee Valley on Saturday for all the right reasons after riding through last year’s Carnival under controversial headlines.
“Today is just a stepping stone,” Oliver said.
“I’m just happy to be back and to be part of the Spring.”
Oliver had five rides at Geelong today and has four mounts at Moonee Valley including the top chance Happy Trails in the Group 2 $300,000 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m).
Oliver is also riding So Bella Arella for Leon Corstens in the three year plate Plate (1200m), Divine Calling for Gai Waterhouse in the 1500m three year old Handicap and Lord Of Brazil for Darren Weir in the Listed $120,000 Drummond Golf Stakes (1200m).
Oliver is happy to be back aboard Happy Trails for trainer Paul Beshara after the pair combined to take out the Group 1 $1m Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival last year.
Happy Trails is on the second line of betting at $6.50 behind the Mark Kavanagh trained Super Cool and Gai Waterhouse’s Fiorente who share favouritism at $3.20.