Oliver has a gem of a day
DAMIEN Oliver was always going to be the story at Caulfield yesterday — and this time he made sure it was for the right reasons.
The champion jockey has been confronted with damning headlines all week after it was alleged he had placed a $10,000 bet on the winner of a race in which he rode.
Racing Victoria stewards have opened an inquiry into the allegations made in a Sunday newspaper report, but the fallout only deepened for Oliver when he was stripped of his Caulfield Cup ride on My Quest For Peace and Cox Plate mount on Green Moon.
Oliver’s best — and perhaps only chance — of a Group 1 win this spring was with Commanding Jewel in the $ 500,000 Thousand Guineas (1600m) yesterday.
And he again demonstrated a rare ability to cope with the crushing pressures and duress by producing a masterful, triumphant ride.
The Hall of Fame jockey returned to polite, almost subdued applause.
Oliver gave a brief smile to Commanding Jewel’s trainer Leon Corstens and the filly’s owners, acknowledged Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey, dismounted and walked straight into a media scrum.
Most were expecting a ‘‘no comment’’ but to his credit, Oliver paused and patiently answered questions.
When asked how he was feeling after being dumped from some of his major spring carnival rides, Oliver replied: ‘‘Each to their own, so be it.’’
‘‘In tough times, you find out who you true friends are, who is going to stick by you.
‘‘Everyone has tough times in your life, it is how you respond to them that counts.
‘‘I’m fortunate to have a lot of friends and a great family around me.
‘‘I’ve been through a lot worse than this we’ll come through this all right.’’
Corstens said he was never going to replace Oliver, despite the allegations levelled against his rider.
‘‘Damien is the best rider in Australia so why would I have second thoughts? He rode it unbelievable.’’
Commanding Jewel ($10) showed blinding acceleration from the top of the straight to win the Thousand Guineas by nearly three lengths from a very unlucky Dear Demi ($11) with Zydeco ($ 12) a nose away third. Favourite Molto Bene ($5) finished well back.
STAND BY YOUR MAN: Trainer Leon Corstens with Damien Oliver after the Thousand Guineas at Caulfield yesterday.