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.