Champion jockey Damien Oliver threw aside the turmoil of the last week by taking out his fifth Group 1 $500,000 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) on Commanding Jewel at Caulfield today.
The Leon Corstens trained filly also carried on the family tradition following unbeaten half-sister Atlantic Jewel who took out the fillies Group 1 feature last year.
Corstens stuck with Oliver for Commanding Jewel after the top jockey was dumped from several Spring rides after allegations relating to information released that the Melbourne Cup winning jockey had placed a bet of $10,000 through a third party on a horse in a race in which Oliver had another mount.
Oliver was replaced on My Quest For Peace by Corey Brown in the Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield on Saturday and the mount on Cox Plate fancy Green Moon went to Craig Williams.
But Corstens and the filly’s connection were rewarded with a superb Oliver ride to score a dominant two and three quarter lengths win.
“I never had a second thought,” Cortens said following the controversy of the last few says.
“He’s the best rider in Australia so why would I have to make a second thought. He knows the filly so it would have been stupid to take him off and put someone else on.”
“He rode it unbelievable. He rode it to get the mile today and it worked out terrific.”
Oliver had the Commands filly positioned just a bit better than midfield and after gaining a split in the straight, Commanding Jewel shot to the front at the 300m and raced away unchallenged to score from Dear Demi who came from last with Zydeco finishing a close third.
Commanding Jewel started at the good odds of $10 following placings at her last two starts at Group 2 and Group 3 level.
Jim Cassidy rode an inspired race on Sydney filly Dear Demi ($11) after jumping from the outside barrier, crossed straight over to fence behind the field and after turning for home secured a passage in between runners to jag second spot just in front of the Anthony Freedman trained Zydeco ($12).
Favourite Molto Bene ($5) was always well back in the field and never threatened in the straight.
Oliver was beaming with delight after winning the Thousand Guineas for the fifth time and was happy to forget the turmoil of the previous week.
“It was great. It was nice to draw a good gate on this filly today. She’s had a couple of wide draws and we had to use her a bit more than we would have liked. But settling in a spot further back she really showed a great kick today,” Oliver said.
“From a good draw today we were able to settle her and she showed a great kick.”
“I can’t thank Leon enough. There wasn’t a better looking horse in the yard and he’s having a great run, he’s a great trainer and I would like to thank Leon and all his owners particularly Brad Spicer and all the other owners that have stuck by me at this time.”
Spicer heads the team of owners that race Commanding Jewel with some of the group lining up again on Saturday with Zabeelonaire in the Caulfield Cup, also trained by Corstens.
Oliver’s previous Thousand Guineas winners are 2008 winner Gallica, and the Lee Freedman trained fillies, multiple Group 1 winner Alinghi in 2004, Special Harmony in 2003 and Azzurro in 1992.