A couple of weeks ago Damien Oliver was on the outer and his prospects for the Flemington carnival were bleak.
Now he is the winner of the Victoria Derby and rides the favourite in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.
The news that Oliver was under investigation for an alleged betting offence cost him the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup rides on Green Moon and trainers were shying away from the champion jockey.
Leon Corstens stuck solid and Oliver rewarded him with the Thousand Guineas trophy on Commanding Jewel. Anthony Cummings was persuaded by Oliver to run Fiveandahalfstar in Saturday’s Derby and he produced the perfect ride for the perfect result.
Oliver’s booking for Americain was also dramatic with the owners of the 2010 Cup winner sacking Frenchman Gerald Mosse after the Caulfield Cup when the horse raced wide throughout and finished fourth behind Dunaden.
No stranger to adversity, Oliver rode Media Puzzle to victory in the 2002 Melbourne Cup just a few days after the death of his brother Jason in a fall from a horse in Perth.
That sort of mental strength has stood him in good stead in the face of issues that by comparison are less testing.
Since the announcement of his booking for Americain, punters have swarmed to back the horse. The support continued on Saturday with Americain drawing barrier 12 and Dunaden easing after coming up with gate 16 as he attempts back-to-back wins with an extra 4.5kg to carry 12 months later.
Americain is in to $5.50 for the Cup with Dunaden at $7.50 and former favourite Mount Athos $8.50 ahead of 2011 runner-up Red Cadeaux at $9.
The tactics for Red Cadeaux from barrier 18 rest squarely with his jockey Michael Rodd who was given the task of picking up a numbered Cup replica to select the draw.
The top four in the market are all trained in Europe with number five in the pecking order the best hope for the colonials.
Maluckyday is at $13 to give trainer John Hawkes and his partners, his sons Wayne and Michael, a first Cup win.
The horse’s owner Nick Moraitis has already been there and done that with his champion Might And Power who completed the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups double in 1997.
Two years ago Maluckyday finished second to Americain in the Cup having won his way into the field in the Lexus Stakes three days earlier.
This year’s Lexus winner is progressive stayer Kelinni, one of several imported horses in Chris Waller’s stable. The premier Sydney trainer has built his team by sourcing horses from overseas, but unlike many others, not with the purpose of winning the Melbourne Cup.
However Waller is excited about the prospects of Kelinni who has made his way through the grades to earn his place.
Kelinni was ridden to his Lexus win by Nash Rawiller but with horse to carry just 51kg in the Cup, Waller was forced to look elsewhere.
The obvious choice of a lightweight was three time Cup winner Glen Boss who snapped up the ride when Geelong Cup winner Gatewood failed to make the field when he finished sixth in the Lexus.