The controversy surrounding Damien Oliver’s alleged betting activities has surfaced again as he prepares to ride favourite Americain in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington today.
Reports have surfaced that Oliver has given self-damming evidence to the stewards’ inquiry investigating his alleged bet of $10,000 through a third party on Miss Octopussy in the same race that he rode Europa Point at Moonee Valley in October 2010.
And further reports suggested that Oliver could retire from riding if he is found guilty and received a lengthy disqualification, possibly between nine and twelve months.
But Oliver has more important things on his mind today when he is legged on French stayer Americain who is looking for his second cup victory for trainer Alain de Royer Dupre after winning the famous 3200mm race two years.
Oliver picked up the ride on the Melbourne Cup favourite after being dumped from My Quest For Peace in the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup when the betting scandal surfaced at the beginning of the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
And the champion jockey also lost the ride on Cox Plate favourite Green Moon who finished seventh to Ocean Park for Craig Williams.
But Oliver’s luck changed when Americain’s owner Gerry Ryan rang Oliver to book him for the Melbourne Cup ride, replacing regular rider Gerald Mosse who rode the French stayer when an unlucky fourth to Dunaden last year.
“He was very unlucky last year,” Ryan said.
“Every trainer and every jockey said, ‘You should have won’.”
“It wasn’t a matter of sacking him. He just wasn’t appointed this time.”
“It’s the owners’ prerogative to appoint the jockey and we felt Americain is in a sense an Australian horse now and has to be ridden like Australians ride – tighter.
“Damien knows not only the form of other horses but the form of other riders, and has ridden some Group winners for us over the years.”
Oliver was pleased to pick up the ride on Americain and thinks he has a great chance to add to his two Melbourne Cup victories on 1995 winner Doriemus and the Dermot Weld trained Media Puzzle teen years ago.
“It’s a great opportunity to ride a horse of Americain’s calibre in the Melbourne Cup,” Oliver said.
“I think he can win the race.”
The Flemington track has been rated a Dead 4 for Melbourne Cup day, which should suit the majority of the field including Americain who is holding onto favouritism at $7 just in front of last year’s winner Dunaden and the Luca Cumani trained Mount Athos at $7.50.
Red Cadeaux, who was beaten a whisker last year is at $9 with the locally trained Maluckyday at $14.
Cumani’s other runner My Quest For Peace and Peter Moody’s Lights Of Heaven are the only other runners under 20-1 at $17.