Oliver has habit of win­ning

Mercury (Hobart) - - RACING - MANDY COTTELL

DAMIEN Oliver has had a week­end to re­mem­ber and he will be try­ing to par­lay that into a Mel­bourne Cup win on Mustajeer.

Oliver broke the record for most wins by a jockey dur­ing Mel­bourne Cup car­ni­vals with his Wake­ful Stakes win aboard Mi­ami Bound and a few races later put the ic­ing on the cake with a sixth Vic­to­ria Derby tri­umph on Warn­ing.

He rides the Kris Leestraine­d Mustajeer in the Mel­bourne Cup, a race he has won three times aboard Doriemus (1995), Me­dia Puz­zle (2002) and Fiorente (2013).

A fourth win would put Oliver equal with Bob­bie Lewis and Harry White as the most suc­cess­ful Mel­bourne Cup jock­eys.

The win­ner of this year’s Ebor Hand­i­cap at York, tra­di­tion­ally a good Euro­pean form ref­er­ence, Mustajeer was bought by Aus­tralian Blood­stock to tar­get the Cups.

He fin­ished sixth at Caulfield and has taken enough im­prove­ment for Oliver to de­clare the horse in the mix.

“I think there are a num­ber of chances this year,” Oliver said. “It’s the widest one I’ve seen for a while, just be­cause I think they’re com­ing from so many dif­fer­ent form di­rec­tions, so it’s not re­ally clear-cut.”

Lees is chas­ing a first Cup win al­most 20 years af­ter he first sad­dled Coun­try Ty­rone in 2002. He says an awk­ward draw made Mustajeer’s Caulfield Cup task dif­fi­cult and is rapt with bar­rier six at Flem­ing­ton.

In a race where quick de­ci­sions and ex­pe­ri­ence can count for plenty, Lees re­gards the book­ing of Oliver as a po­ten­tial game-changer.

“Vi­tal. It’s a big race and he’s a big race rider,” Lees said. “I don’t know that the horse was that com­fort­able around the [Caulfield] track and he did get fur­ther back than we prob­a­bly pre­ferred but the bar­rier dic­tated that to us some­what. He’s got a more favourable draw now.

“We thought he’d im­prove. Damien came and rode him Fri­day morn­ing to give him that bit of con­fi­dence as well and he was quite taken with his work.”

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