Jockey Damien Oliver made his first admissions in the betting scandal that has shaken Victorian racing less than 24 hours before being charged on Tuesday.
Racing Victoria (RV) chief executive Rob Hines said stewards investigating allegations that Oliver breached the rules of racing by betting $10,000 on a rival horse in a race in which he was riding at Moonee Valley two years ago had been unable to act any earlier.
Defending RV against suggestions it should have stood Oliver down from riding when the allegations emerged, Hines said authorities were bound by the law and had little or no grounds for withdrawing the jockey’s licence.
Hines rejected media reports over the past two weeks that Oliver had made formal admissions in the case.
“It has been alleged in various news reports that Damien Oliver had confessed to the illegal bet on Miss Octopussy some weeks ago,” Hines said on Tuesday.
“Following a number of interviews … a signed statement was received yesterday from Mr Oliver which contained an admission which enabled the stewards to lay the charges and stand down Mr Oliver pending the inquiry.”
Before that, insufficient evidence was available to stewards to either lay charges or stand Oliver down.
Hines also defended RV stewards, saying they are “on the front foot” in the Oliver matter and other issues confronting racing.
Oliver will face a hearing next Tuesday when full details of two charges he is facing will be aired.
The two-time Melbourne Cup-winning jockey is charged with placing the bet on Miss Octopussy which won the race in question in October 2010.
He is also charged with using a mobile phone in the jockeys’ room before the same race in which he rode the second favourite Europa Point.
He has admitted both charges.