The numbers behind Damien Oliver's career

19 October 2023 Written by VRC

Oliver announced he will retire from race riding at the conclusion of the Perth Carnival in December. We look at his astounding career by numbers.

1972 Born in Perth to Ray and Pat Oliver on June 22.

At 15-years-old, Oliver rides his first winner aboard Mr Gudbud at Bunbury in 1988.


Moves to Victoria and transfers his indentures to emerging young trainers, the Freedman brothers.

66 Wins across the 1988/89 season in Western Australia and is named Champion Apprentice.

Shortly after turning 17, wins first Group race aboard Groucho, leading all the way in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (now Group 1 Winx Stakes) at Warwick Farm.


Rides in his first Melbourne Cup only to fall off his mount, the long-priced Salisopra, mid-race.


Oliver claims his first Group 1 win as an 18-year-old apprentice when he teams up with master trainer Bart Cummings to claim the Show Day Cup (now Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes) aboard Submariner.

19 Claims the senior Melbourne Jockeys’ Premiership at just 19 years of age.

Claims his first of five successes in the 1992 Group 1 Lightning Stakes (now Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning) aboard grey sprint star Schillaci (went back-to-back in 1993). Oliver was aboard Schillaci for six career Group 1 wins, Oliver’s most at the elite level on any horse.


Oliver completes his apprenticeship in 1993 with a record 18 Group 1 wins to his name.


Named the season’s Group 1 Champion Rider for the first time, an honour he has won or shared on four other occasions.


Wins first Melbourne Cup aboard the Freedman-trained, Doriemus, completing the coveted Caulfield Cup-Melbourne Cup double.

11 In 1996, wins the first of eleven Scobie Breasley Medals, an award for Victoria’s Leading Rider for the season.

Makes his first international mark when he guides Queensland sprinter Falvelon home in the Hong Kong International Sprint. The pair would return the following year to successfully defend their crown.


Just 11 years after his first Group 1 success, Oliver brings up his 50th Group 1 win, fittingly aboard WA hero Northerly in the 2000 Group1 Underwood Stakes.

2002 Older brother Jason falls in a barrier trial in Perth and Oliver flies across the country to be by his side. Days earlier, Oliver had ridden Dermot Weld’s Cup chance Media Puzzle to a superb Geelong Cup win, but Oliver’s place in the Melbourne Cup was far from assured as the sad news came that his 33-year-old brother had died from the injuries he had sustained in the fall. Oliver ultimately opted to ride in honour of his brother and the vision as he crossed the line the winner will be part of racing’s history forever.

Is involved in a horror fall at Moonee Valley, suffering several vertebrae fractures, surgeons later fusing together sections of his spine while also inserting titanium rods and securing screws into his spine. It would be 15 months before he was cleared to resume his career.

2006 Oliver makes his racing return in June of 2006, but his comeback was derailed in August when he broke a wrist following a fall at Werribee. Barely three months later, is narrowly defeated aboard Japanese visitor Pop Rock in an amazing finish to the 2006 Melbourne Cup by stablemate

In 2007, becomes just the eighth rider in history to claim all four of what Australian racing considers, the four majors - Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and the Golden Slipper.


Inducted into Racing Hall Of Fame at the age of 36 years of age.


Lands a record fifth Group 1 Lightning Stakes win (now Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning) aboard the David Hayes-trained Nicconi, with wins previously on Schillaci (1992-93), Gold Ace (1996) and Testa Rossa (2000).


Move titled The Cup is released. It traces the tragic lead-up to Media Puzzle’s historic 2002 Melbourne Cup victory.


Oliver scores third Melbourne Cup win aboard the Gai Waterhouse-trained, Fiorente.

100 Oliver registers Group 1 win number 100, guiding Preferment to victory in the 2014 Group 1 Victoria Derby.

Oliver secures third Australian Guineas win aboard Grunt, with previous wins on Flying Spur (1996) and Mr Murphy (2001).


In 2020, Oliver surpasses legendary jockey Bobbie Lewis as the most-successful rider over the Melbourne Cup Carnival with win number 73.


Claims the 2022 Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes on outsider Nimalee, surpassing George Moore with a 127th Group 1 winner.

2013 Melbourne Cup winner Damien Oliver and Fiorente.


11.5 A Melbourne Cup Carnival winning strike-rate of 11.5%
85 A record 85 Melbourne Cup Carnival winners ahead of Bobby Lewis (72) and Roy Higgins (71).
26 A record number of Group 1 winners over the four days of Melbourne Cup Carnival ahead of Bobby Lewis (24) and Roy Higgins (19).
17 First ride at the Melbourne Cup Carnival on Derby Day in 1989 - Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m) - Plush Maree (17th).
1 First winner at the Melbourne Cup Carnival on Cup Day in 1990 - Schweppes Welter (1200m) - Brosberg for trainer John Sadler.


Derby Day  201 28 23 26
Melbourne Cup Day  198 20 21 13
Oaks Day  171 24 23 13
Stakes Day  169 13 16 21
TOTAL  739 85 83 73
*Full Carnival record (1989-2022) 


BLACK CAVIAR LIGHTNING (1000m) – Previously Lightning Stakes
5 Most  Nicconi (2010), Testa Rossa (2000), Gold Ace (1996), Schillaci (1992 & 1993)
3 Most Grunt (2018), Mr Murphy (2001), Flying Spur (1996)
3 Equal most Alinghi (2005), Toledo (2001), Schillaci (1992)
1   Fiorente (2014)
5 Equal 2nd Grunt (2018), Fawkner (2015), Vigor (2015), Sky Heights (1999), Marble Halls (1997)
2 Equal 3rd Sky Heights (1999), Marble Halls (1997)
6 Equal 3rd Warning (2019), Preferment (2014), Fiveandahalfstar (2012), Elvstroem (2003), Amalfi (2001), Redding (1992)
COOLMORE STUD STAKES (1200m) – Previously Ascot Vale Stakes
3 Equal most  Alinghi (2004), North Boy (2001), Racer’s Edge (1994)
4 Most Colette (2021), Shout The Bar (2020), Hurtle Myrtle (2011), Bonanova (1998)
3 Equal 2nd Fiorente(2013), Media Puzzle (2002), Doriemus (1995)
VRC OAKS (2500m)
7 Equal most Willowy (2021), Personal (2020), Miami Bound (2019), Jameka (2015), Special Harmony (2003), Kensington Palace (1997), Northwood Plume (1994)
CHAMPIONS SPRINT (1200m) – Previously VRC Sprint Classic
No wins 
CHAMPIONS MILE (1600m) – Previously Cantala Stakes
2 Equal 3rd Superstorm (2021), Happy Trails (2012)
CHAMPIONS STAKES (2000m) – Previously LKS Mackinnon Stakes
5 Equal most  Happy Trails (2014), Glass Harmonium (2011), Grand Armee (2004), Danewin (1995), Paris Lane (1994)