Damien Oliver celebrates winning the AAMI Victoria Derby
riding Fiveandahalfstar during Victorian Derby Day at
Flemington Racecourse on Saturday. Photo Getty Images
Australian jockey Damien Oliver, who will ride Americain
in the Melbourne Cup later today, has admitted to placing an
illegal bet on a rival horse and could face a lengthy ban,
local media reported.
The allegations have cast a cloud over Australia's richest
and most celebrated thoroughbred race, with pundits slamming
administrators for allowing the jockey, a former Melbourne
Cup winner, to ride today.
Oliver, who won the 2002 race on Media Puzzle, had admitted
to racing stewards that he had placed an $A10,000 bet on Miss
Octopussy in a local race two years ago in which he rode
another horse, Fairfax Media reported, citing unnamed sources
close to the jockey.
Stewards revealed last month that they had been investigating
Oliver over the illegal bet.
Oliver, 40, has declined to comment on the allegations
directly, but said last month that he was entitled to "due
His manager Mark Van Triet declined to comment on the
allegations when contacted by Reuters today, but confirmed
Oliver would ride Americain.
"It's business as usual," he said by telephone.
Governing body Racing Victoria (RV) was not able to
immediately provide comment when contacted.
Fairfax quoted RV chief Rob Hines as saying the investigation
into Oliver would be finalised in the "next week or so",
effectively after the state's major racing carnival wraps up.
Americain, trained by Frenchman Alain de Royer-Dupre and the
winner of the 2010 Melbourne Cup, is rated favourite or
second favourite behind another French stayer and last year's
winner in Dunaden.
Americain's owner Gerry Harvey said he and connections had
not considered changing riders for today's race, despite
knowing the betting storm would break.
"We believe this is the right decision," Harvey was quoted by
Fairfax as saying.
The allegations against Oliver are part of a wider
investigation into corruption in horse racing in the southern
state of Victoria.
Local media have reported that at least two other jockeys
riding in the Melbourne Cup are under investigation.
Victoria's racing minister Denis Napthine backed authorities
to ensure the race would be run with integrity.
"People can have confidence that racing today at Melbourne
Cup day will be fair, reasonable and they can have a bet with
confidence," he told reporters in Melbourne.
Pundits have blamed government officials for failing to
provide racing administrators the powers to stand down
jockeys and other racing personnel under suspicion of
"Who knows what is yet to come to light?" a commentary in the
Age newspaper said. "And yet those suspected of corruption
... can keep on keeping on during Australia's premier racing
event as if nothing has happened. What a disgrace."