Champion jockey Damien Oliver will miss the heart of the spring racing carnival including the Cox Plate and Victoria Derby day after failing to overturn a reckless riding ban.
A disappointed Oliver will miss key race meetings worth $11.6 million in prize money, but can return on Melbourne Cup day.
The Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board on Friday upheld Oliver’s 20-meeting suspension for reckless riding on eventual winner Flying Arlie in Wednesday’s Blue Sapphire Stakes at Caulfield.
Stewards said Oliver came from behind eventual runner-up Dalradian at the 700m mark and made heavy contact with Ken’s Dream, causing that horse to be hampered and his jockey Dean Yendall to become unbalanced.
Judge John Bowman said the bump was significant and the RAD board was satisfied Oliver’s move was deliberate.
“We are comfortably satisfied and indeed have no doubt that the move by Mr Oliver was intentional,” Bowman said.
Oliver’s solicitor Peter Jurkovsky had tried to have the suspension reduced to 17 meetings to allow Oliver to ride on Derby Day., October 29.
That would have reduced the $11.6 million in prize money being missed by Oliver to $6.7 million, he said.
Oliver did not believe his ride was reckless, saying he anticipated Blake Shinn on Dalradian would go to the fence after the jockey twice looked to cross him.
“I felt there was going to be some contact with Dean Yendall but I felt it was going to be minimal,” he told the board.
He acknowledged there had been significant contact, more than what he expected, due to the overreaction of his horse coming out.
Oliver said he was disappointed the reckless riding charge was sustained.
“I felt I certainly wasn’t riding in a reckless manner,” he told reporters.
“My record proves over a long period of time that that’s not the case.”
The suspension means Oliver will miss the ride on French horse Vadamos in the Cox Plate on October 22 and English in the Manikato Stakes the night before.
He would also be expected to have a full book for the Derby day meeting on October 29.
Racing Victoria chief steward Terry Bailey said his panel considered the lesser charge of careless riding but believed the incident qualified as reckless riding given the manner in which Oliver came out and the heavy contact that was made.
“In our view that’s not the standard of racing that ought to be condoned,” he told the three-member board.
Oliver’s ban begins after the Caulfield Cup meeting on Saturday when he rides Exospheric for Lee and Anthony Freedman in the main race.
It ends in time for Melbourne Cup day although Oliver said he did not yet have a confirmed ride in the big race.