Damien Oliver steers Zonza to victory at Caulfield on Wednesday. Photo: Pat Scala
Top Sydney jockey Tommy Berry looks set to become the benefactor of Damien Oliver's careless riding charge at Caulfield by picking up the plum ride on Fiorente in Saturday week's group 1 Cox Plate.
Oliver was outed for 12 meetings after being found guilty of careless riding aboard Zonza, who won the group 3 Snowhite Classic on Wednesday. The suspension will start on Saturday night, meaning he will be free to ride at the rich Caulfield Cup meeting.
Oliver, who replaced Nash Rawiller after he was sacked from Fiorente in the Turnbull Stakes, has now incurred his second suspension in just six weeks after having returned from an eight-month disqualification.
He will miss the Geelong Cup, Manikato Stakes, Cox Plate and Bendigo Cup meetings. Oliver will return for the VRC Derby day meeting on November 2.
Oliver, who was disqualified from riding after being found guilty of betting on a horse in a race at Moonee Valley in which he was also riding, put up a strong defence in a bid to beat the charge.
But chief steward Terry Bailey said that Oliver's careless riding charge lay in the the high range.
Oliver told stewards that the spring carnival was the most important time of the year.
''The Caulfield Cup is on Saturday, I've got a nice ride in that. Then there's the Geelong Cup on Wednesday, the Manikato Stakes on Friday night and then the Cox Plate,'' Oliver said. ''I'll have rides in all those features and probably one of the favourites in the Cox Plate, so a suspension at this time of year is obviously not good.''
Oliver's ban starts after Saturday's Caulfield Cup meeting, where he rides Jet Away in the feature race, and he is unable to return until October 31.
Oliver had picked up the ride on Cox Plate third favourite Fiorente last Sunday week after Rawiller was sacked from the star import.
Ironically, Rawiller will also miss the Cox Plate meeting after being suspended for careless riding at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.
Oliver did not comment on whether he would appeal.
■ Champion filly Guelph took control of the Thousand Guineas from barrier rise and put an empathic explanation mark on her spring at Caulfield on Wednesday.
The Darley filly, the $1.45 favourite, won her fourth group 1 from the front and will head for a spell, leaving the debate open on what she might have done in the Cox Plate or Myer Classic. ''She is the best filly I have ridden,'' jockey Kerrin McEvoy said.