Damien Oliver has continued preparations for his impending race return by partnering one of his spring hopefuls in a barrier trial on Monday.
Oliver, who is set to return to race riding from a 10-month ban on Friday, rode Group One winner Bel Sprinter to a close second in an 800m hit-out at Cranbourne.
He is booked to ride Bel Sprinter this spring, with the Jason Warren-trained galloper to return in the Group One Moir Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on September 27.
Warren was delighted with Monday’s trial in which Bel Sprinter cruised along to finish a short half head behind Shamal Wind.
“He wasn’t out to break any records. He just had a nice soft trial and he’s right on track,” Warren said.
“He did everything right and I’m very pleased. He had a nice blow and will improve a lot fitness wise.”
Oliver rode Bel Sprinter in last year’s Group One Patinack Farm Classic in which the gelding finished ninth and subsequently underwent throat surgery.
He returned in the autumn to win the Group One Galaxy in Sydney first-up with Kerrin McEvoy aboard before running third to Black Caviar in the TJ Smith Stakes and second to Lucky Nine in the KrisFlyer International Sprint in Singapore.
Oliver hasn’t ridden in a race since the Patinack Farm Classic meeting on November 10 last year.
The jockey was banned after pleading guilty to placing a $10,000 bet on Miss Octopussy at Moonee Valley on October 1, 2010 when he rode another horse in the same race.
Oliver has been allowed to ride trackwork and trials since mid-July and is set to make his race return at Geelong on Friday before competing at Moonee Valley on Saturday where he will be reunited with Happy Trails in the Group Two Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) on Saturday.
Happy Trails won the Group One Emirates Stakes on Oliver’s last day of riding before his penalty began.