Melbourne Cup 2012 – It could’ve been Damien Oliver on Green Moon

Date: November 7, 2012 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

There was a perversely delicious irony when Green Moon passed the winning post to win the 2012 Melbourne Cup.

Sitting atop the flying six-year-old stallion was Brett Pebble.

Had it not been for an act of mind blowing stupidity, it would have been Damien Oliver who would have piloted Green Moon around Flemington.

In 2002, Oliver reduced a nation to tears when he rode Media Puzzle to one of the most memorable victories in the great race, coming just days after the death of his brother Jason in a training accident.

Ten years hence, he is embroiled in one of the sport’s preeminent dramas.

It is alleged that Oliver, last month, admitted to having wagered $10,000 on Octopussy, a rival horse in a race at Moonee Valley in 2010.

Octopussy duly won.

The bet was allegedly placed through a third person with Octopussy winning at odds of $2.30 – a $23,000 windfall for Oliver.

Oliver’s mount, Europa Point, finished second.

Such an act by any jockey, let alone one of Oliver’s standing, simply beggars belief.

As a result of the affair, one of the country’s most high profile equine owners, Lloyd Williams dropped Oliver as the mount for Green Moon for the Cox Plate and the Cup.

Oliver instead rode the 2010 Melbourne Cup winner, the American-bred French-trained, Americain, finishing 11th.

Part-owner of Americain, Gerry Ryan, offered Oliver the ride on his six-year-old stayer but admitted to not having questioned the jockey about the alleged scandal.

Oliver has spoken to racing officials about his mind-blowing indiscretion and it is believed that his actions that fateful day at Moonee Valley have been known to the Victoria Police for several months.

The question then has to be asked as to how the hell he was allowed to ride in the spring carnival?

Surely, if the VRC was aware of the story, and indeed as reported, had a confession from Oliver that he did violate one of the most sacred tenets of racing, how could they have allowed him to keep riding?

If they were hoping to keep the whole sordid affair under wraps until after the running of Australia’s most iconic horse race to avoid embarrassment or exposure affecting the great race, the entire committee should hang its head in shame, or better still, resign en masse.

What would have happened had Americain run a place, or potentially even worse, repeated its 2010 success?

All the VRC will publicly say at present is that its investigation is ongoing.

Sources say it may be completed before the end of the week.

A Racing Victoria official said at Flemington this morning that, “Stewards are conducting an ongoing investigation into the allegations and as no charges have been laid, it is a matter of procedural fairness to allow the jockey to continue racing”.

However, if it comes to light that Oliver has indeed admitted his guilt – and to date he has said nothing publicly to deny it – there will be bigger questions to answer as to why the officialdom allowed him to contest the carnival.

We will all wait with extreme interest.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 6 November 2012