Just as former champion jockey Shane Dye is inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame, Damien Oliver has discovered that he has missed celebrating his one hundredth Group 1 winner.
Oliver thought he was still searching for that elusive Group 1 winner with two excellent chances at Flemington on Saturday with Shamexpress in the $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and Fiorente in the $1m Darley Australian Cup (2000m).
The three time Melbourne Cup winning jockey went back through the records books and came up with ninety-nine Group 1 wins going into Saturday’s meeting but with further scrutiny it was discovered that Zavite’s win in the 2010 Auckland Cup had been missed.
Racing Victoria General Manager of Racing Greg Carpenter was the man who found the lost Group 1 win and was quick to inform Oliver who was thrilled to join the small elite group of jockeys, Jim Cassidy on 100 winners, Roy Higgins (108) and George Moore (119), to have reached the milestone.
“It’s been a big thrill and real honour as well,” Oliver told TVN.
The record books now show that Oliver clocked up his century of Group 1 wins with his masterful ride on Fiorente to win last year’s Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington for Gai Waterhouse.
“I’m sort of celebrating it now in a way. It’s a few months later after the Melbourne Cup and I couldn’t think of a better day to do it on.”
“In a way I am kind of glad it wasn’t the focus in the lead up to the Melbourne Cup. The Melbourne Cup is such a huge race itself and to be able to enjoy that for what it was and share that great day with Gai Waterhouse.”
With that major achievement now accomplished, Oliver can concentrate on winning his first Australian Cup on Fiorente for Waterhouse who has also missed a win in the major Flemington weight for age contest.
Fiorente showed that he is back as good as ever winning at his first run back after the Melbourne Cup victory when he overpowered Mourayan and Star Rolling in the Group 2 $220,000 Carlton Draught Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 22.
Oliver has ridden seven placing in the Australian Cup, three seconds – Princess Coup (2008), Winning Belle (2005) and Northerly (2002) and four thirds on Elvstroem (2004), Don Eduardo (2003), Kaapstad Way (2001) and Marble Halls (1998) and is keen to get that Group 1 trophy on the mantelpiece.
Waterhouse can also see herself collecting the winning trophy for the first time saying that Fiorente is ready to keep his winning momentum going.
“He is a bigger horse now; he has a big bigger girth, a bigger rump and is lovely and thick through the neck and shoulder,” Waterhouse said.
“I had him very forward for Caulfield and he has done well since, but it is not like it is chalk and cheese.
“He has been on a very steady line for a long time.
“He is ready to go.”
Oliver can still recall his first Group 1 win on Submariner in 1990 for Cups King Bart Cummings.
“That was huge thrill. For Bart Cummings a horse called Submariner in the old Show Day Cup as it was known then. I think it is called the Rupert Clarke or the Vic Health Cup, I think it has had a couple of name changes.
“1400m Group 1 Handicap at Caulfield, the horse had about 49 kilos and I remember Leon Corstens being in charge of the team down in Melbourne at that time and the horse got up on the fence and it was a huge thrill.”
Oliver was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame in 2008 and Dye will get his name on the board when he is inducted on Sunday night in Canberra.
Originally from Matamata in New Zealand, Dye established himself as one of the elite jockeys riding in Australia from the late 1980s right through the 1990s and included wins in the 1989 Melbourne Cup on Tawriffic and four straight Golden Slipper wins from 1989 to 1992 on Courtza, Canny Lad, Tierce and Burst.