Industry salutes Damien Oliver on stellar career

30 August 2023 Written by Racing Victoria

Racing Victoria wishes to acknowledge the magnificent career of champion jockey Damien Oliver who today announced that this year’s Victorian Spring Racing Carnival will be his last before retiring after an iconic 35-year riding career.

The Hall of Fame hoop moved to Melbourne from Perth in 1988 as a 16-year-old apprentice and went on to become a household name and Australia’s most decorated living jockey. Oliver has ridden more than 3000 winners.

Ollie retires

Damien Oliver's three Melbourne Cup wins

Ollie retires

Jim Cassidy on Damien Oliver

The now 51-year-old holds the Australian record for Group 1 wins at 128 and has won Victorian racing’s highest honour, the Scobie Breasley Medal, an unparalleled 11 times.

His first Group 1 came aboard the Lee Freedman-trained Submariner in 1990 at Caulfield in the Show Day Cup (now the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes) with his most recent elite level success coming in June this year when he guided Amokura to victory in the Queensland Oaks.

Ollie, as he is affectionately known, boasts the ‘Grand Slam’ of Australian racing with wins in the Melbourne Cup (Doriemus, Media Puzzle and Fiorente), the Cox Plate (Dane Ripper and Northerly), Caulfield Cup (Mannerism, Paris Lane, Doriemus and Sky Heights),  and Golden Slipper (Forensics).

He is also a seven-time VRC Oaks winner, six-time VRC Derby winner and has won the Thousand Guineas, Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Black Caviar Lightning, and Mackinnon Stakes (now Champions Stakes) a total of five times each.

Ollie retires

Gai Waterhouse on Damien Oliver

Ollie retires

James McDonald on Damien Oliver

Oliver won his first Victorian metropolitan jockey’s premiership in 1990-91 as an apprentice and has gone on to win nine more throughout his decorated career, the last of those in 2014-15. His tally of 10 metropolitan premierships is just one shy of joint record holders Bill Duncan (1919-20 to 1932-33) and Roy Higgins (1964-65 to 1977-78).

RV Chief Executive, Andrew Jones, said: “On behalf of everyone at Racing Victoria I would like to congratulate ‘Ollie’ on an extraordinary career.

“To remain at the top of any field for three decades is a remarkable achievement and is a credit to Damien’s hunger, dedication and skill. He has entertained and amazed generations of racing fans and set the benchmark for jockeys, established and aspiring, to challenge."

“His achievements are endless, however his victory in the 2002 Melbourne Cup aboard Media Puzzle stands above all others. It became a movie and remains Australian folklore.

“We are grateful for one last Spring Racing Carnival to see Ollie showcase his talents, while we reminisce about his achievements."

With a total of 128 Group 1 wins, Damien Oliver is Australia’s most successful jockey and sits among the upper echelons of the turf. Oliver will ride at his final Melbourne Cup Carnival later this year and the VRC is proud to announce that the $500,000 Group 2 Linlithgow Stakes will now be registered as the $500,000 Group 2 The Damien Oliver (1400m) on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day, in recognition of his achievements.