Controversial jockey Damien Oliver will return to Group 1 racing when he rides Mr Moet in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield this afternoon.
Oliver celebrated the end of his suspension by riding Divine Calling to victory in the Vitale & Sons Handicap (1500m) at Moonee Valley but had his day soured when Happy Trails, his ride in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m), was scratched by Racing Victoria stewards.
The leading jockey has built a solid partnership with Happy Trails, after winning the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) on the Good Journey gelding, but will be coming up against the six-year-old this weekend.
“I had already taken the ride on Mr Moet in the Underwood so I couldn’t ride Happy Trails,” Oliver told Throughmedia.
While disappointed not to be able to ride Happy Trails, Oliver clearly has a high opinion of Mr Moet who returned to racing with an unlucky ninth behind Foreteller in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m).
Oliver rode Mr Moet at trackwork on Thursday and said he is expecting a big effort from the Mosayter gelding against the star-studded Underwood Stakes field on Saturday.
“I worked him yesterday and he felt great,” Oliver said.
“The horse is a lazy track worker but he is in great condition.
“It is going to be a tough race but he didn’t have much luck first-up and hopefully he can have a good run for us on Saturday.”
Mr Moet is searching for his first victory in Melbourne after he raced consistently during the 2013 Melbourne Festival Of Racing earlier this year.
The Adam Durrant-trained galloper earnt the trip to Melbourne by winning the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) and finishing second in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) and Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m).
He had a short break before heading to Melbourne where he was placed in the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) and Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) before finishing an unlucky sixth in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m).
Oliver is chasing his second victory in the Underwood Stakes after winning the race on Northerly in 2001.