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He may be thankful for the work but Damien Oliver certainly delivered the goods for Gai Waterhouse at Caulfield following his recent return from an enforced 10-month lay-off from riding.

After guiding home the Waterhouse-trained Rockford in The Inglis Bonus Handicap (1700m) on Saturday, the champion jockey recalled how he saw Waterhouse a few weeks ago and she asked him to ride some trackwork for her.

“I’m just grateful she’s given me a chance,” Oliver said.

“I saw her walking off the track a few weeks ago and she said `could you ride some work for me’.

“She’s got some lovely horses and it’s nice to team up with a champion trainer.”

He said as the spring carnival hots up in Melbourne he will be more than happy to ride for the leading Sydney trainer.

The win on the three-year-old gelding made it two in a row for Oliver who also won on Iconic.

Waterhouse stable foreman Roger Elliot said Rockford’s win stamps him as a Group One Victoria Derby chance.

He said Rockford was the type of horse that the further he went, the better he will get.

“He seems to relax pretty well and I think the more races he has this way running, the better he will get at it, too,” Elliot said.

“Gai will be thinking about the Derby, for sure.”

Rockford ($8.50) finished too strongly for Epic Saga ($7.50) to win by a half neck with favourite Le Mans ($5.50) a half head further away.

 
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