All eyes on Oliver, but only for his 15 minutes
Race 1 ... eight more brought Damien Oliver's earnings to $6705 for the day. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
IT WAS as if Damien Oliver had a spotlight on him at every turn for the first few hours at Flemington on Tuesday. But even his scandalous admission that he had bet illegally on a race was quickly blurred by other controversies and then, of course, the Melbourne Cup.
Oliver began the day as the story that every electronic media outlet and newspaper wanted following revelations in Fairfax Media on Tuesday that he had admitted betting $10,000 on Miss Octopussy in a race where he rode another horse at Moonee Valley two years ago.
But it's hard to hold the spotlight on Melbourne Cup day, especially when stewards were busy enforcing upon two trainers their new hard line on race-day treatments .
Stewards summoned trainer Leon Corstens into their room after a security guard saw him applying something to a hoof of Zabeelionaire. Corstens said he had put ''herbal hoof oil'' on one of Zabeelionaire's hooves, but stewards ruled the treatment had not been permitted so fined him $500.
The stewards were far from done.
After the third race, as the field returned to the yard, about 80 kilometres away near Geelong racing's two-man SWAT team (the Compliance Assurance Team) of stewards Kane Ashby and Dion Villella was scaling walls and demanding cars be opened at the stables of Jamie Edwards and Bruce Elkington, housing Queenslander Nathan Schofield's Beseech.
Ashby and Villella found equipment capable of stomach-tubing a horse, illegal within 24 hours of a race, and a container holding 400ml of warm water. Ashby told chief steward Terry Bailey that Schofield said he intended to tube Beseech with the water as he was concerned the horse had not drunk enough overnight and in the morning. He refused access to his car, claiming it held personal items he didn't want stewards to see.
Bailey said his story was fanciful and denying access to his car ''suggests you were hiding something'' and hindered the stewards' investigation. ''We can therefore not be satisfied that this horse has not been treated and so he is withdrawn.''
Three other trainers will appear before stewards on Friday. Robert Smerdon, Con Karakatsanis and Jim Conlan will be asked about allegedly illegal race-day treatments over the past few weeks of the Melbourne spring carnival.
Oliver had the ride on Green Moon in the Cox Plate but was ditched by connections, and Craig Williams was booked when news broke that Oliver was being investigated for making an illegal bet.
The Melbourne Cup ride on Green Moon had never been confirmed for Oliver, owner Lloyd Williams stating on Tuesday night that his ''two favourite jockeys'', Brett Prebble and Hugh Bowman, always had the front running for rides on Green Moon and Mourayan.
Oliver came back under the spotlight as he was legged aboard Americain for the Cup but, after an aggressive ride where he positioned the French horse closer to the pace than in six previous races in this country, Americain failed to finish off and wound up 11th, just outside the prizemoney.
Still, he had a better day than the estimated 106,000 spectators. He rode in nine of the 10 races and rode Walk With Attitude to win the sixth.
He is paid $170 for every losing ride and percentages for the win and the third (Tribal Rock in the eighth race).
That's $6705 for the day.