Oliver has a gem of a day

Geelong Advertiser - - ADDY RACING - RAY THOMAS

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.

Photo: WAYNE LUD­BEY.

STAND BY YOUR MAN: Trainer Leon Corstens with Damien Oliver af­ter the Thou­sand Guineas at Caulfield yes­ter­day.

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