Ollie thriving in twilight of career
THIRTY years is an incredible amount of time to be at the top of any sport and Damien Oliver is a long way from being done.
His victory in the Champagne Stakes in Sydney on Saturday - 20 years after he last won the race - was Oliver's 113th career Group 1 victory, with 109 coming in Australia and four in New Zealand.
That's the confirmed figure too after several other numbers floated around in the wake of Saturday's win on star filly Seabrook.
It took the 45-year-old hoop past legendary jockey Roy Higgins (108), and now has Oliver, who had his first race ride in 1988, within touching distance of George Moore's all-time record of 119 Australian Group 1 wins.
Oliver continues to thrive in the big races, having secured his first Group 1 win on Sub Mariner at Caulfield in 1990, in the race now known as the Rupert Clarke Stakes.
Since then he's compiled a compelling resume which includes three Melbourne Cups, four Caulfield Cups, two Cox Plates and a Golden Slipper, completing the grand slam of Australian racing.
He's fifth in this season's Victorian jockeys premiership, but conceded he was savouring every moment knowing that he's closer to the end of his career than the beginning.
"When you are growing up you hear older people saying that you career goes quick. At the time you are not sure about that. But as you do get older you realise it does go quicker than you think it does," Oliver told RSN on Monday.
"Getting to the twilight, you do appreciate it more as it gets close to the end, you appreciate those big victories when the come along."
Oliver will be eyeing off major success during the Adelaide carnival over the next few weeks with sprinter Secret Agenda, which won the Group 1 Sangster Stakes at Morphetville last year, and She's so High among his key rides.
There are four Group 1s on offer in Adelaide over the next month, and with another six in Queensland after that, Oliver sees no reason why he can't make more inroads on Moore's longstanding record.
"You always need something to chase," he said.
"I have some nice young horses coming through so it certainly keeps me going at the moment."
Meanwhile a capacity field of 16 plus one emergency has been declared for the $200,000 VRC St Leger at Flemington on Anzac Day.
The 2800m staying test, a Listed race for three-year-olds, is the last of its kind run in Australia.
The VRC St Leger was first run in 1857 and predates the Melbourne Cup with the Victoria Derby, first held in 1855, the oldest feature race. It has been won by turf greats including Phar Lap and Tulluch.
Trainer David Hayes has four entries in the race