Dettori to ride Almandin, Ollie loses ban appeal

Damien Oliver (left) rides Happy Clapper in the Cox Plate. Picture: AAP
Damien Oliver (left) rides Happy Clapper in the Cox Plate. Picture: AAP

FRANKIE Dettori will ride joint Melbourne Cup favourite Almandin after Damien Oliver's appeal to the Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Board failed.

Dettori, who is yet to win the Cup and has endured a wave of controversies in Melbourne while chasing Australian racing's most glittering prize, was snapped up by owner Lloyd Williams within minutes of a dejected Oliver leaving the hearing.

The Italian was fined $20,000 and banned for a month two years ago when second on Max Dynamite in an interference-marred Cup.

Last year, he was banned for his ride on Wicklow Brave.

For all that, he remains one of the foremost talents in the world and beat out a host of rivals for the prized ride.

The RAD Board sustained Racing Victoria's improper riding charge - and 20-meeting penalty - against Oliver after the champion jockey shifted in on Happy Clapper in Saturday's Cox Plate, causing interference to Dean Yendall on Royal Symphony.

Eager to win a fourth Melbourne Cup, Oliver​ ​was desperate to earn a reprieve to ​keep the ride on Almandin. ​

But those hopes were dashed by the three-man RAD Board panel​.

Oliver said he would not take the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, as he did last year after being banned for 20 meetings for reckless riding.

"I accept the board's decision," he said. "Myself, being a competitive person is what's made me be able to sustain a long, successful career. But the board felt that I overstepped this line today, which I accept.

"The main thing I want to put out there is that I have total respect for the riders I ride with and would never do anything to put them in danger."

Judge Bowman said Oliver had deliberately ridden the "considerably larger" Happy Clapper into the "considerably smaller" Royal Symphony taking Yendall "off his rightful line".

Damien Oliver looks dejected after his appeal against his 20 meetings suspension handed out after his Cox plate ride was dismissed. Picture: Getty Images
Damien Oliver looks dejected after his appeal against his 20 meetings suspension handed out after his Cox plate ride was dismissed. Picture: Getty Images

Oliver denied his ride was dangerous.

"There was no danger of anyone falling," Oliver said.

"There was no chance of anyone catching heels, therefore there was no risk of danger."

Oliver said Yendall responded to the initial contact, shifting out on Royal Symphony and forcing Happy Clapper to race three-wide.

"Yendall's posture has not changed, his horse has not lost its action," Oliver said.

"I haven't gained any advantage by what I was trying to do."

Bailey said Oliver's actions "fall into the improper category."

"The incident goes on for too long. He was trying to get Royal Symphony down to the fence in the hope of keeping Winx three-wide," he said.

"There were four points of bumping ... it continues for far too long.

"He was mindful of what he was doing.

"It was intentional, it was deliberate. It wasn't careless riding."


Oliver flatly rejected Baiely's claims, saying: "I don't believe there was any potential for danger in this event."

Bailey responded: "If we let that standard of riding come into town, who knows where we'll end up."

Oliver's ride was condemned by Royal Symphony's trainer Tony McEvoy, who blamed the champion jockey for wrecking the star three-year-old's VRC Derby campaign.

Royal Symphony's owners were also enraged, ordering Yendall not to give evidence to the RAD Board via telephone from Swan Hill where he was riding.

Oliver was suspended for 20 meetings last year for reckless riding, costing him the Cox Plate mount on Vadamos, in an incident also involving Yendall.

Oliver's latest ban ends on November 16, ruling him out of a string of spring features.

Oliver missed the ride on Almandin in last year's Cup because the gelding carried 52kg, well under his weight range, leaving Kerrin McEvoy to win his second Cup.

Topics:  damien oliver frankie dettori melbourne cup

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