Oliver further cements greatness
DAMIEN Oliver is rightly revered as one of the greats of the Australian jockey ranks.
The three-time Melbourne Cup winner equalled Bobbie Lewis's longstanding mark of 72 wins at the famous carnival on Saturday, another milestone in an incredible journey.
To put Oliver's achievement in context, Lewis' record had stood for more than half a century.
At 46, Oliver is as ambitious as ever.
Immensely successful, he has also paid a heavy price for dedication to vocation.
Not only has racing claimed the lives of his father and brother, but it also left Oliver with a spinal injury from a race fall that almost wrecked his career.
"It's a bit overwhelming actually," Oliver said.
"It's been a long carnival and there have been a lot of placings for me, a lot of seconds but it's nice to equal (the record) on a horse of Danny O'Brien's because he's a good friend."
O'Brien summed it up best after Order Of Command's win in the final win of the carnival.
"Champions in any sport, the big judge of them is their longevity," O'Brien said.
"I knew Damien when he was a 16-year-old, he was still mucking out (boxes) at the Freedmans.
"To be still at the top of his craft so many years later is a credit to him. We're really pleased to keep winning with him."
Kudos to O'Brien, too. He saddled just four horses at the carnival for two wins and a third.
SILVER LINING FOR J-MAC
JAMES McDonald would have been shattered with Yucatan's Melbourne Cup 11th, but there was a silver lining to his carnival.
Victory in the Ron Hutchinson excellence award as the four-day meeting's top jockey is yet another stepping stone in the Kiwi's return to competition after suspension.
With two wins over the four days, including the Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes and several other placings, McDonald collected the "Hutchy".
For all that, Yucatan's failure to live up to the hype stemming from Herbert Power Stakes victory would have cut deep.
The import failed to handle the yielding ground and pulled up sore.