Trainer slates Oliver's Melbourne Cup ride amid scandal
MELBOURNE (AFP) –
A betting scandal hung over Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup after a top jockey who reportedly admitted to betting on a rival horse two years ago was criticised for his ride on one of the race favourites.
Damien Oliver, who according to Fairfax media expects to be charged soon over a Aus$10,000 bet in 2010, earned the trainer’s rebuke for his ride on Americain in the Aus$6 million ($6.2 million) showpiece race he has won twice.
Americain’s trainer Alain de Royer Dupre said he was disappointed with Oliver’s ride in bringing home the horse, which started second favourite, in 11th place.
De Royer Dupre said the French-trained horse, which won the Cup in 2010, looked like he had not even had a run when he returned to the mounting yard.
Oliver avoided reporters’ questions about the scandal.
Fairfax said sources close to the champion jockey confirmed he admitted last month to breaching the rules of racing by betting on rival horse and eventual winner Miss Octopussy two years ago at Melbourne’s Moonee Valley.
Oliver, competing in the same race, finished sixth.
The claims threw a dark cloud over the Melbourne Cup, which is the highlight of the Australian racing calendar and boasted its best field for years.
Newspaper reports alleged Oliver told his supporters he expected to be suspended for between nine and 12 months for his controversial bet in 2010, but that he may retire to avoid a public hearing or a penalty from Racing Victoria.
Jockeys are forbidden from betting on any horse, while betting on a horse in the same race is one of the “gravest breaches” of Australian racing laws.
Publicly, Oliver has refused to deny placing the bet and Fairfax said there were serious questions about why he had been allowed to continue riding, and why he had not been charged by stewards.
Racing Victoria chief executive Rob Hines said he would not comment on the ongoing affair other than to say he expected an investigation to be completed in the next few weeks.
But Hines did call on the Victorian state government to give racing stewards more power to stand down jockeys suspected of wrongdoing.
“Racing Victoria would welcome a wider stand-down power for the stewards or police that could be used when there is information to support the need to avert a serious risk to the integrity of racing,” Hines told reporters.
Victorian Racing Minister Denis Napthine said in a statement that Racing Victoria operated separately from his government and it would be inappropriate for him to comment.
Gerry Ryan, part-owner of Americain, said he had not questioned Oliver over the betting scandal story.
Ryan offered Oliver the Cup ride on his horse after sacking French jockey Gerald Mosse following his fourth placing in the lead-up Caulfield Cup race.