Melbourne’s champion jockey Damien Oliver is gearing up for another successful Spring Carnival after wrapping up his tenth jockey’s premiership with an early win at Geelong on Sunday.
Oliver’s win on the Mick Price trained Volcanic Ash in the $80,000 Greg Williams Handicap (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday saw him head to the transferred meeting at Geelong on fifty-nine winners, two wins ahead of nearest rival Craig Williams.
But a win on the Chris Waller trained Sebring Sally in the first race of the day, the $35,000 2yo Fillies Handicap (1200m), saw Oliver skip to a three win lead virtually putting Williams’ hopes of a premiership win unachievable with only five races remaining on the six race program.
Williams was able to claw one back on Strong Hand for Darren Weir in the $35,000 City Of Ballarat 3yo Handicap (1500m) to end the 2014 – 2015 season with fifty-eight metropolitan winners, one ahead of third place Dwayne Dunn on fifty-seven.
Oliver with sixty metropolitan winners for the season recorded his tenth Melbourne jockey’s premiership and is one title away from equalling the record held by Roy Higgins and Bill Duncan.
“That’s something I’ll aim for next year. It’s something I’ve never thought achievable to equal such great jockeys,” Oliver said.
“I won my first premiership when I was 19. To be able to get another one when I’m 43 is testimony to my longevity.”
“It’s been an exciting battle with Dwayne and Craig over the past month.”
Oliver also rode three Group 1 winners for the season including a Group 1 double on the at Flemington on first day of the 2014 Melbourne Cup Carnival with wins on Preferment in the $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) and on Happy Trails in the $1m Longines Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).
Oliver will now set his sights on the upcoming Spring Carnival and has already pencilled in big race gaols for Alpine Eagle and Rich Enuff.
“I won’t take a break as you can’t afford to with spring around the corner,” Oliver said.
The Ken Keys trained Rich Enuff was one of the stars of the 2014 Melbourne Spring Carnival and after scoring a hat trick of wins culminating with a victory in the Group 3 $175,000 BECK Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Caulfield was sent out favourite for the Group 1 $1m BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield.
But the Written Tycoon colt couldn’t hold off the strong finish for the Peter and Paul Snowden trained Shooting To Win and had to settle for second placing.
Rich Enuff was then freshened up before running seventh to Brazen Beau in the Group 1 $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington but then had to miss the Autumn after suffering a ligament injury to his back hock.
Keys has indicated that the Group 1 $400,000 New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on August 29 and the Group 1 $400,000 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on September 26 as possible Spring goals.
The Tony McEvoy trained Alpine Eagle was one of the finds of the Autumn Carnival and after winning the Group 2 $200,000 Race-Tech Australia Caulfield Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield on February 28 was narrowly beaten by Wandjina in the Group 1 $500,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 7.