Damien Oliver

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Damien Oliver
Damien Oliver after winning the 2014 Darley Australian Cup
OccupationProfessional jockey
Born (1972-06-22) 22 June 1972 (age 51)
Perth, Western Australia
Australian Racing Hall of Fame
Significant horses

Damien Oliver (born 22 June 1972) is an Australian retired thoroughbred racing jockey. Oliver comes from a racing family; his father Ray Oliver had a successful career until his death in a race fall during the 1975 Kalgoorlie Cup in Western Australia.[1] In 2008, Oliver was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.[2] In August 2023 he announced that he would retire at the end of that year's spring carnival.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Damien Oliver was born on 22 June 1972 in Perth, Western Australia. His father, Ray Oliver, was a jockey who died in Kalgoorlie from falling off his horse when Damien was three years old.[4]As a child, he attended Byford Primary School in Byford, Western Australia.[5]

Racing career[edit]

Oliver's riding career started in 1988, and he completed his apprenticeship with his stepfather Lindsey Rudland and Lee Freedman. His first win as an apprentice was in March 1988 on Mr. Gudbud, at Bunbury, Western Australia and his first feature race win was the AJC Warwick Stakes. Unfortunately he suffered a series of injuries including a broken spine in March 2005, sustained in a fall at Moonee Valley.[6] He returned to riding after that back injury and rode the Japanese horse Pop Rock in the 2006 Melbourne Cup, which finished second to stablemate Delta Blues.[7] In the 2007 Melbourne Cup, he placed second to Efficient on English horse Purple Moon.

Oliver has won the Melbourne Cup three times: on Doriemus (1995), Media Puzzle (2002),[8] and Fiorente (2013);[9] the Caulfield Cup on Mannerism (1992),[10] Paris Lane (1994), Doriemus (1995), and Sky Heights (1999); the Cox Plate on Dane Ripper (1997) and Northerly (2001); and the Blue Diamond Stakes on Alinghi (2004).[11] He was also the regular rider of Lee Freedman's champion sprinter Schillaci (1991–95) and top filly Alinghi (2003–05). In the 2007 Golden Slipper, Oliver completed the grand slam of Australian racing by winning the two-year-old race on the John Hawkes trained Forensics.

From 1989 (his first ride) to 2023 (his final ride) in the Melbourne Cup, Oliver was only been absent from three editions of the race, 2005 due to injury, 2017 due to suspension and 2022 due to his ride Durston being withdrawn from the race with injury.

On 22 September 2010, Oliver pulled out of rides at a Sandown meeting, while helping police with their inquiries into a criminal investigation.[12]

In 2011, The Cup, a biopic starring Stephen Curry, was released. It covered Oliver's relationships with his family and how he overcame the death of his brother Jason Oliver and won the 2002 Melbourne Cup two weeks later on Media Puzzle.

In 2013, Oliver won his third Melbourne Cup riding the favourite, Fiorente. This ride was also his 100th Group 1 win.[13] The victory was trainer Gai Waterhouse's first victory in the Melbourne Cup.[9]

In the lead-up to the 2023 Melbourne Spring Carnival, Damien announced his intention to retire at its completion.[3]

His last race-day was at Ascot in Perth on 16 December 2023. He had seven rides and won all of his last three races with Devine Belief, Magnificent Andy and Munhamek. His final ride and win on Munhamek was in a race named after him, the Damien Oliver Gold Rush over 1400m.[14][15][16]

In his career Oliver had ridden 3189 winners, including 129 in Group One races.[17][18] He holds the Australian record for the number of Group One victories.[3]

Illegal betting and suspension[edit]

Damien Oliver mounted on Fiorente at the 2013 Melbourne Cup.

In 2012, Oliver was accused of placing a $10,000 bet on a rival horse, Miss Octopussy, to beat a horse he was riding, Europa Point, in the same race at Moonee Valley Racecourse on 1 October 2010. Europa Point finished sixth but stewards had no issue with the way Oliver rode his horse, saying there was no change from the usual racing pattern or any other reason to doubt the integrity of the ride.[19] It was subsequently revealed that he made an $11,000 profit with his bet.[20] The then alleged incident was not discovered until 2012, during an investigation into the racing industry.[21] He was subsequently dropped from the Lloyd Williams-owned Green Moon in the 2012 Cox Plate and 2012 Melbourne Cup although he did ride in the 2012 Cup Carnival, a move that reportedly annoyed some members of the public and racing industry.[22] He won the Victoria Derby and Emirates Stakes.[23]

On 13 November 2012, Oliver was formally charged with the alleged offence.[24] On 20 November 2012 he was banned for eight months for the illegal bet and received an additional two months' suspension for using a mobile phone in the area of the jockeys room against the rules. He was unable to ride in races until 13 September 2013.[25][26][27]

On his return to race riding, Oliver immediately tasted success culminating in his Melbourne Cup winning ride. There has been discussion on whether Oliver's sentence was adequate and the sentence for this offence has increased significantly since. Had it occurred in 2013, he would have been suspended for two years for the same offence.[20][22]


Damien Oliver has won Racing Victoria's Scobie Breasley Medal fourteen times (1996, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2020). The award recognises excellence in race riding on Melbourne racetracks and is voted on the day of racing by stewards in a 3:2:1 format for the race ride of the day.[13]

In 2014, he won the inaugural Roy Higgins Medal as the winner of the Victorian jockeys' premiership.[13]

Oliver won the 2014/15 Melbourne Jockeys' Premiership after riding 60 race winners. It was Oliver's 10th win of the award, trailing only Roy Higgins and Bill Duncan who have won the award 11 times.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Oliver is married to Trish, and they have two daughters called Niali and Zara; and one son called Luke.[27][29] They live in the Melbourne suburb of Port Melbourne.[22]

Oliver's elder brother Jason was also a jockey; he died on 29 October 2002 after a fall at Belmont Park Racecourse, Western Australia, when a young horse he was riding broke both front legs and fell during a race trial.[30] The horse was found to have been administered phenylbutazone prior to the trial and this was thought to be a contributing factor in the accident.

Oliver supports the West Coast Eagles in the Australian Football League.[31]

Group 1 winners (129)[edit]



  1. ^ "Melbourne Cup: Damien Oliver writes latest dramatic chapter with third Cup win aboard Fiorente" by Andrew McGarry, ABC News, 5 November 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  2. ^ "Australian Racing Museum Damien Oliver". racingvictoria.com.au. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Tatnell, Paul (30 August 2023). "Damien Oliver set to retire". Racing.com. Retrieved 1 September 2023.
  4. ^ "Damien Oliver: Champion Australian Jockey Who Will Continue To Break More Records As Time Goes On". www.progroupracing.com.au. 8 August 2022. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  5. ^ "Ollie's emotional stop at primary school". thewest.com.au. 3 August 2023. Retrieved 18 September 2023.
  6. ^ "Damien Oliver: Champion Jockey", Pro Group Racing. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  7. ^ Stevenson, Andrew (8 November 2006). "Made in Japan: double win a fairytale finish". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  8. ^ Victoria, Thoroughbred Horse Racing In Victoria | Racing. "Home". Racing Victoria.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ a b "Gai Waterhouse's Fiorente wins the 2013 Melbourne Cup" by Will Brodie, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 November 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  10. ^ Eddy - @fastisheddy, Andrew. "'92 Caulfield Cup winner Mannerism dies". RACING.COM. Retrieved 6 April 2023.
  11. ^ "Blue Diamond Stakes 2024 | Tips, Odds, Field & Results | Racenet". racenet.com.au. Retrieved 6 April 2023.
  12. ^ Dowsley, Anthony; Dunn, Adrian; Hobbs, Kerri-Ann (22 September 2010), "Star jockey Damien Oliver questioned by police", Herald Sun
  13. ^ a b c Habel, Tim (17 August 2014). "Damien Oliver gets his seventh Scobie". The Age. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  14. ^ "Ollie, Ollie, Ollie! Legend delivers another movie script". The West Australian. 16 December 2023.
  15. ^ "R9 Damien Oliver Gold Rush - Ascot Results - Racenet". racenet.com.au.
  16. ^ Rennie, Matt. "'Dreams do come true' - legendary Australian jockey Damien Oliver ends remarkable career by winning race named in his honour". www.racingpost.com.
  17. ^ "Damien Oliver Jockey Profile". Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  18. ^ "'Dreams do come true': Damien Oliver in perfect ending with hat-trick". racenet.com.au. 16 December 2023.
  19. ^ "Damien Oliver breaks down at stewards hearing " by Courtney Walsh and Brendan Cormick, The Australian, 20 November 2012. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Damien Oliver's holiday at mug punters' expense" by Andrew Webster, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 October 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  21. ^ Baker, Nick McKenzie and Richard (13 October 2012). "Damien Oliver's $10,000 secret bet". The Age.
  22. ^ a b c "Melbourne Cup winner Damien Oliver's hard ride to redemption" by Ron Reed, Herald Sun, 9 November 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  23. ^ "Officials call for stand-down powers". 3 News NZ. 6 November 2012. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  24. ^ "Damien Oliver charged over betting scandal". 3 News NZ. 13 November 2012. Archived from the original on 23 February 2013.
  25. ^ "Racing's master of disguises Damien Oliver conceals double life of despair" by Courtney Walsh, The Australian, 21 November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  26. ^ ""Deeply sorry" champion jockey Damien Oliver now isolated from racing 10 months " by Rod Nicholson, News Ltd, 21 November 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
  27. ^ a b "Out for 10 months: Oliver banned for illegal bet" by Michael Lynch, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 November 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  28. ^ "Damien Oliver wraps up 10th Melbourne Jockeys' Premiership", Racenet
  29. ^ "Damien Oliver hints at retirement, opens up on family life away from track". Herald Sun. 12 September 2017.
  30. ^ "Jockey Jason Oliver dies", theage.com, 30 October 2002
  31. ^ Beveridge, Riley (29 January 2016). "Your AFL club's most famous supporters, from Barack Obama to Cam Newton". Fox Sports. Retrieved 29 January 2016.


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