Fiorente (IRE) carried Oliver to his third Melbourne Cup win in 2013.
BY BRAD BISHOP
It's no secret that Damien Oliver is one of Australia's best jockeys, but his record of wins during the Melbourne Cup Carnival since his debut nearly thirty years ago cements it.
The 1990 Melbourne Cup Carnival was almost three decades ago, but it hosted a number of occurrences that retain particular significance to the week.
David Hayes’ six Derby Day winners in his first season of training remains one of the great training performances in the history of Australian racing.
Kingston Rule’s Melbourne Cup-winning time of 3:16.3 set a Flemington 3200m track record that stands to this day.
And Damien Oliver announced himself on the biggest week on the Australian racing calendar. Then 18, Oliver registered his first Cup Carnival success when he partnered the John Sadler-trained Brosberg to victory in the 1200m Welter that was the third race on Cup Day.
Twenty-nine years on, Oliver is just one win away from setting a new mark of riding the most winners during Melbourne Cup Week.
The existing record of 72 has stood since Bobby Lewis hung up his saddle in the 1930s. Oliver joined Lewis on 72 Cup Week winners with his win in the last race on the last day of last year’s Carnival aboard Order Of Command.
Following that initial win in 1990, Oliver did not feature on the winners’ list the following year but rode at least one winner at every Carnival from 1992 to 2004 – a streak only halted by the spinal injuries sustained in a fall that not only caused him to miss the 2005 Spring Carnival, but threatened his way of life.
Yet 30 of Oliver’s Cup Week winners have come since returning from that injury, including the third of his Melbourne Cup wins, aboard Fiorente in 2013.
Nineteen of his Cup Week wins – or 26 percent – have come in Group 1 races, which is the equal second-most with Roy Higgins, who had 71 Cup Week wins.
Oliver sits equal second, with Higgins, on 19 in the list of Cup Carnival Group 1 wins, five astern of Lewis, and is the only active jockey with the 10 Group 1 wins required for a spot in the top 10.