Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver can rebound from negative reports which surfaced over the weekend by steering Commanding Jewel to victory in the Group 1 $500,000 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on Wednesday.
Oliver was dumped from Cox Plate chance Green Moon and Saturday’s Caulfield Cup contender My Quest For Peace following allegations that the top jockey was under investigation for placing a $10,000 bet through a third party on Miss Octopussy in the same race that he rode Europa Point at Moonee Valley in October 2010.
Commanding Jewel is the $6 favourite for the Thousand Guineas with Oliver retaining the ride after the filly finished third to Maybe Discreet in the Group 2 $250,000 TAB Edward Manifold Stakes (1610m) at Flemington on October 6.
Commanding Jewel went into the Edward Manifold as favourite with intentions of being ridden quieter but the Leon Corstens trained filly failed to settle in the early stages before running home into third spot.
Oliver was also on board the Commands filly winning over 1200m at Moonee Valley on August 25 and holds a very big opinion of three quarter sister to the unbeaten Atlantic Jewel.
“She’s got class,” Oliver said.
Craig Williams has replaced Oliver on Green Moon in the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27 while Corey Brown has picked up the ride on My Quest Of Peace in the Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on October 20.
Prominent owner Lloyd Williams contracted Craig Williams to offer him the chance to stick with Green Moon in the Cox Plate after winning the Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 6 after Racing Victoria Chief Executive Rob Hines released a statement in relation to Oliver.
“We can confirm that a race involving Miss Octopussy is the subject of a stewards’ investigation. That investigation is on-going and thus we’ll be making no further comment on it at this time,” Hines said in a Racing Victoria release.
And Terry Henderson, part owner of import My Quest For Peace followed suit and claimed Brown for the mount in the Caulfield Cup after the Sydney jockey was successful in taking out the Group 1 $400,000 David Jones Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield last Saturday on Solzhenitsyn.
“We made a decision as to (My) Quest For Peace as to get the best rider we could for the race, which was Corey,” Henderson said.
Craig Williams was set to ride Pierro in the Cox Plate but after being contacted by Lloyd Williams, the top jockey approached the Waterhouse stable for a release from the three year old after the easing Cox Plate favourite was beaten by All Too Hard in the Group 1 $1m BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield last Saturday.
“In the end I was in the position where I had the choice of two really good horses,” Williams said.
“I had to weigh up a couple of options, one was the weight.”
“I’m very, very comfortable with my decision.”
Oliver responded to the betting allegations which have surfaced that could damage his riding career and reputation with the following statement.
“My record and reputation show me to be honest, committed and trustworthy. With regards to the allegations made, I cannot and will not be making any comment, other than to say allegations such as these are damaging and hurtful, and that everyone, myself included, should have the right to a due process being followed here.”
“With that in mind, I’d request that my rights in this area be respected.”