Champion jockey Damien Oliver has been disqualified for eight months after admitting to placing a $10,000 bet via a third party on a rival horse in a race in which he rode in 2010.
Oliver has received a further two months suspension for using a mobile phone in the area of the jockeys room against the rules.
At Tuesday’s hearing in Melbourne an emotional Oliver read from a statement in a trembling voice as he told stewards that at the time of the offence in 2010 he was going through serious personal problems and described it as the “worst period of my life”.
“I felt despondent and had lost my belief in my ability as a jockey,” Oliver said.
He said he had problems with alcohol and had resorted to binge drinking at that time when his wife had left him and taken their three children with her.
“It was a highly stressful time. I feared I would lose my marriage,” he said.
He received psychological treatment and had attended drug and alcohol counselling.
He said the bet was a one-off and was made on the spur of the moment.
It was the only time I had ever placed a bet on a rival horse,” he said.
“I didn’t consult any other jockey or trainer.”
Oliver placed the bet on Miss Octopussy, the winner of a race at Moonee Valley in which the jockey rode sixth placed Europa Point.
Approximately $11,000 was passed on to him in cash by trainer Robert Smerdon who received the money from Hunter.
Oliver’s lawyer Robert Richter. QC, told stewards his client had an illustrious career and had been a significant contributor to the racing industry.
“He is an exemplary man in the industry and this breach was totally out of character,” he said.
“He did not seek to cover up what he had done.
“There was insufficient evidence to charge him without him coming forward.”