Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver has been lured to Gosford on Friday to ride Sense Of Occasion in the Listed $150,000 Gosford Gold Cup (2100m).
Oliver will be replacing Ben Melham who rode Sense Of Occasion to a last start victory in the Group 2 $250,000 Inglis Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on December 17.
Trainer Kris Lees sort the services of Oliver because many jockeys will be heading to the Gold Coast for Saturday’s $10 million Magic Millions race day and were not taking rides at Gosford on Friday.
“A number of jockeys have commitments at the big Magic Millions meeting at the Gold Coast on Saturday, and aren’t keen to ride at Gosford the previous afternoon,” Lees told Racing New South Wales News.
“I’m pleased to get Damien to come to Gosford. I will most likely have three runners at the meeting and he will ride all of them.”
Oliver has teamed up with Lees successfully in the past with the best noted winner together being Lucia Valentina in the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on the second day of ‘The Championships’ during the 2016 Sydney Autumn Carnival.
Sense Of Occasion gained automatic entry into this year’s Group 1 $3m Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on April 1 and that seems likely to dictate where Lees places the six year for his next assignment.
“I was planning to also run him in the Australia Day Cup (2400m) at Randwick on January 26, but he may get too much weight in that,” Lees said.
“Probably, we’ll freshen him and have a crack at the Doncaster Mile seeing as though he has already been guaranteed a start.”
Sense Of Occasion’s victory in the Villiers Stakes was the gelding’s seventh win from twenty-nine starts and took his prizemoney earnings to well over the $500,000 mark.
The Gosford Gold Cup is shaping up as a very small field with Sense Of Occasion only one of seven horses nominated for the feature race but it is certain to develop into a close contest with last start winners Red Excitement and Destiny’s Kiss among the entries.
The well performed Malice from the John O’Shea stable is also certain to put plenty of depth into the race after winning two starts back in the Listed $125,000 ATC Cup (2000m) at Rosehill on December 3 before running fourth to Red Excitement in the Group 3 $150,000 Summer Cup (2000m) at Randwick on December 26.
The Joe Pride trained Destiny’s Kiss has won twice from his last three starts including a last start win over Gosford Gold Cup nomination Index Linked in the Listed $150,000 Tattersalls Club Cup (2400m) at Randwick on January 2.
As well as Index Linked, trainer Chris Waller has also entered Loophole and Summer Cup runner up Foreign Prince from the David Payne stable makes up the Gosford Gold Cup nomination list.