Oliver aiming to join brother on Railway honour roll
CHAMPION hoop Damien Oliver is hoping to finally emulate his late brother Jason by winning his first Railway Stakes at Ascot on Saturday - at his 18th attempt.
But the 47-year-old - fresh from an outstanding Flemington carnival, where he won the Derby, the Oaks and five races across Cup week - knows he will need some luck from the outside gate to salute in the $1 million Railway Stakes (1600m) on $12 chance Achernar Star.
Oliver's brother won the Railway Stakes on Medicine Kid in 1990.
Tragically, Jason, 33, died following a trackwork fall in 2002, just days before Damien rode Media Puzzle to victory in one of the most emotional Melbourne Cups in history.
"It is the one race he has had over me and it would be nice to join him on the honour roll," Oliver said of his brother on Friday.
"It's the one big race in WA that has eluded me. I have had a few goes at it - I think someone told me (it was) 17 recently. It's such a hard race to win and coming from WA, it is probably the greatest race in Perth."
Oliver's own riding career was only in its infancy when his brother won the 1990 Railway Stakes, but he can recall it was a brilliant, tactical ride that he might have to try and replicate on Saturday after drawing wide.
"I have fond memories (of Jason's win)," he said. "It was some ride from an outside gate. He didn't go around a horse."
Having partnered the Simon Miller-trained Achernar Star to win the Bunbury Stakes in March, Oliver will reunite with the horse following the five-year-old's solid fourth to Star Exhibit in the Group 2 Lee Steere Stakes a fortnight ago.
"He is a tough, seasoned horse. He has got an awkward draw which is going to make his task tougher, but he is the sort of horse who can run well in a race like this," Oliver said.
"It was a good effort (at Bunbury) and he overcame a wide-ish gate that day. I think Tellem We're Coming was a bit unlucky that day, so he is a horse who is going to be hard to beat. It seems like a very open race this year and we are one of a number of good chances."
Oliver won't make any concrete race plans until he sees how the track is playing, but says it has been a great "working holiday" back with family and friends in Perth following a super end to his Spring Carnival after winning the Derby on Warning and the Oaks on Miami Bound.
Tellem We're Coming is a $5 favourite with Ladbrokes in the Railway, ahead of The Velvet King on $5.50, while Samizdat ($7) and Regal Power ($8.50) are also given strong chances.
James Cummings' Best Of Days is rated a $10 chance, while Lindsey Smith's last-start Chatham Stakes winner Reykjavik is $13.