Australia’s greatest jockey Damien Oliver announces retirement after three Melbourne Cup wins – as he reveals how his family made him dump his original plan to quit the sport
Australia’s greatest jockey Damien Oliver announces his retirement after three Melbourne Cup victories – as he reveals how his family let him abandon his original plan to retire from the sport
- Leading jockey Damien Oliver, 51, will retire in December
- Started as an apprentice in 1987, raced 128 Group 1 winners
- Oliver’s sporting resume includes three Melbourne Cup victories
Champion Australian jockey Damien Oliver has announced his retirement from the sport – revealing how his family convinced him to abandon his original plan to leave the sport without any fuss.
Oliver, 51, has won three Melbourne Cups (Doriemus, 1995), (Media Puzzle, 2002) and (Fiorente, 2013), as well as four Caulfield Cups, two Cox Plates and a Golden Slipper, achieving a rare Grand Slam in the sport of kings.
He will forever be remembered as one of the country’s greatest ever riders.
Born in Perth, Oliver started out as an apprentice jockey in 1987, working for his stepfather Lindsey Rudland and renowned trainer Lee Freedman.
His last ride will be in Perth in December, which will be a round moment for the father of three.
The sport is often tinged with sadness for Oliver – his father Ray died competing in the 1975 Kalgoorlie Cup in Western Australia and brother Jason died in Belmont in October 2002 when the horse he was riding broke both front legs and fell in a fall . racing trial.
Champion Australian jockey Damien Oliver has announced his retirement from the sport (pictured, with the Melbourne Cup after saluting aboard the Fiorente in 2013)
Oliver, 51, started riding as a learner in 1987 and now has an impressive 128 Group 1 wins to his name
In emotional scenes, a grieving Oliver then returned to Melbourne and led Media Puzzle to victory at Flemington in the race that holds back a nation.
When Oliver was questioned about the best horse he ever rode, he couldn’t limit his answer to one track star.
“The sprinters that come to mind are horses like Alinghi, Falvelon, Schillaci, Testa Rossa and Apache Cat,” he said. Racing net.
“The mile-plus horses for me are Northerly, Doriemus, Fiorente, Paris Lane, Sky Heights and Media Puzzle is in the equation.
And when it comes to horses I wish I could have ridden, Winx and Black Caviar are my picks. I’ve seen a lot of their backsides in races, they were special horses.’
The father-of-three plans to stay in Melbourne and ride for the last time in December
Originally, Oliver planned to quietly walk away from the sport leading up to Christmas, but family and friends convinced him he deserved a fitting farewell and one last appearance at the Spring Carnival.
“I thought I wanted to retire quietly, without fuss and without long goodbyes, because that’s not my style,” he said.
“But I talked to my family and friends and it would have been a bit of a selfish way to go out.”
He nominated Steven King as the only rival he was happy to compete against and confirmed that after the race he will work for Entain, which operates Ladbrokes in Australia, in a content and ambassador role.
His biggest regret is not racing abroad regularly during his career, but he acknowledged that he wanted to raise his family in Melbourne.