Damien Oliver proved why he is the champion jockey that he is when he was awarded his seventh Scobie Breasley Medal at the Victorian awards functions at the Crown Casino in Melbourne on Sunday night.
The prestigious Scobie Breasley Medal for the 2013 – 2014 season was calculated by a 3-2-1 voting system by the Victorian Stewards from each metropolitan meeting for the rides they thought were the best on the day with Oliver first winning the award in 1996.
Oliver has been at the top of the Melbourne riding ranks since the early 1990s but his career reached rock bottom in 2012 when he was disqualified and suspended for ten months for placing a $10,000 on a rival runner in a race at Moonee Valley in 2010.
“It probably reignited my career in a way as well,” Oliver said at Sunday night’s awards function referring to his time out of the saddle for his indiscretion.
“It was an unfortunate way for it to happen, but it certainly made me a little bit more determined to come back and I knew I had to work hard and probably not let myself get too much out of shape in the year I had off.
“But it certainly made me more determined to come back and I didn’t want my career to be remembered for the bad year I had before and I wanted to come back and be successful and fortunately I was embraced again by the racing community.”
But Oliver was determined to resurrect his career on his return to the saddle in September 2013 and immediately made a statement by winning is third Melbourne Cup on the Gai Waterhouse trained Fiorente during the 2013 Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Oliver also went on to win his ninth Melbourne jockey’s premiership with fifty-nine winners, beating Glen Boss for the 2013 – 2014 title by eighteen wins, and was awarded the inaugural Roy Higgins Medal as well.
“It’s nice to know that you’re still capable of winning these awards as you’re getting older,” Oliver told Racing Victoria News.
“Sometimes it’s the kick up the bum you need to want to know that you are still capable of doing it.
“It’s really rewarding because we have got some great jockeys here in Victoria.”
Oliver’s other Melbourne Cup winners were Doriemus in 1995 for trainer Lee Freedman and Media Puzzle in 2002 for champion Irish trainer Dermot Weld.
Among Oliver’s one hundred Group 1 winners are four Caulfield Cups on Mannerism (1992), Paris Lane (1994), Doriemus (1995), and Sky Heights (1999), two Cox Plates on Dane Ripper (1997) and Northerly (2001) and a Golden Slipper on the John Hawkes trained Forensics in 2007.
Scobie Breasley Medal Top 11: Damien Oliver 58, Brad Rawiller 44, Craig Newitt 38, Glen Boss 29, Dwayne Dunn 28, Harry Coffey 27, Michael Rodd 27, Katelyn Mallyon 25, Craig Williams 22, Nicholas Hall 21, Luke Nolen 21.
The Victorian Race Horse Of The Year award went to Fiorente and as well as winning the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington also took out the Group 1 $1m Darley Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington during the 2014 Melbourne Autumn Carnival.