Busy Oliver in the form of his life
Damien Oliver can't remember having ridden at so many meetings in such a short time.
Oliver, 46, a winner of 112 Group 1s, said he had no choice because racing was so competitive and dominated by jockeys associated with the mega stables of Darren Weir and Lloyd Williams.
But, as a consequence, Oliver said he felt he'd never ridden better.
There have been several recent races where he has had to push his mount out to win in driving finishes and also make snap decisions which saw his mounts prevail.
At the Valley on Friday night, Oliver demonstrated his skill when he decided to take off on The Gatting Ball at the 1800m mark in a slowly run staying race.
A jockey who usually does this invariably loses and cops a caning but Oliver, not surprisingly, trusted his instincts and the horse won.
"I was happy to back myself in and he got the job done. He wasn't going to win staying where I was," Oliver said.
He rode a double on Friday night and was successful in the opening race at Caulfield the next day when he had to call on his strength to get Crack The Code home in a photo finish.
"There's a lot of jockeys in Victoria at the moment and you've got to work hard to hold your place no matter what you've achieved through your career," Oliver said.
Oliver said he had never been as busy as he had in the past week. He rode trackwork and jumpouts at Caulfield last Tuesday and then headed to Werribee for jumpouts.
He then rode at Sandown Lakeside on Wednesday, Pakenham on Thursday night, the Valley on Friday night, Caulfield on Saturday and Geelong on Sunday.
He will ride at Sandown Hillside today and then it's back to Caulfield tomorrow for jumpouts and trackwork.
"If I'm doing that it shows people I'm still prepared to do the hard yards to be successful. It's not the sort of job you can do part-time," Oliver said.
"You've got to work hard for the people that are supporting you and you've got to go to the meetings they want you to."
He said the key stables he was riding for are Danny O'Brien, Mick Price and Clint McDonald.
Oliver is also excited about Australian Guineas winner Grunt's return to racing.