Jockey Damien Oliver gave a glowing report after partnering French stayer Americain for the first time in his lead up to his third appearance in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington next Tuesday.
Oliver made the trip to Werribee yesterday after getting a call from part owner Gerry Ryan to ride Americain in the Cup, replacing French jockey Gerald Mosse and was very impressed with the eight year old’s workout.
”He was really bright. He’s more imposing being on him than from afar. I was really taken by his athleticism. He was really light on his feet and has great acceleration,” Oliver said.
“Through the line was the best part of his work. He just wanted to keep going.
“As we know, he’s a great two-miler. When he gets to Flemington on a big track, that’s going to be his greatest asset.”
“He’s in great form. I was really pleased with him.”
”I thought his Caulfield Cup run was terrific and it is probably not the ideal track for him.”
Ryan was forthright in explaining his decision to replace Mosse who has been on board Americain for most of his career starts including the win in the 2010 Melbourne Cup and his fourth last year when a lot of form analysts declared him a certainty beaten after finishing strongly out wide on the track.
“He was very unlucky last year,” Ryan said.
“Every trainer and every jockey said, ‘You should have won’.”
“It wasn’t a matter of sacking him. He just wasn’t appointed this time.”
“It’s the owners’ prerogative to appoint the jockey and we felt Americain is in a sense an Australian horse now and has to be ridden like Australians ride – tighter.
“Damien knows not only the form of other horses but the form of other riders, and has ridden some Group winners for us over the years.”
This is not the first time Mosse has been dumped from Americain and was replaced by Craig Williams in the Group 1 $500,000 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on April 28 after the French jockey finished second to Manighar in the Group 1 $2.25m The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill the start before.
Oliver was pleased to pick up the ride on Americain and thinks he has a great chance to add to his two Melbourne Cup victories on 1995 winner Doriemus and the Dermot Weld trained Media Puzzle in 2002.
“It’s a great opportunity to ride a horse of Americain’s calibre in the Melbourne Cup,” Oliver said.
“I think he can win the race.
Oliver’s Spring hit a low when it was announced that he was under investigation for allegedly placing a $10,000 bet through a third party on Miss Octopussy in the same race that he rode Europa Point at Moonee Valley in October 2010.
And when the allegations surfaced, Oliver was dumped from Cox Plate second favourite Green Moon, being replaced by Craig Williams and was left without a ride in today’s $3m Group 1 weight for age championship over 2040m at Moonee Valley.
The Melbourne Cup winning jockey was also left on the sidelines at Caulfield after being replaced by Corey Brown on My Quest Of Peace in the Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) the week before.
But the champion jockey has bounced back into the Spring Carnival limelight and admitted that he “nearly drove off the road” when he received the call from Ryan.
Siince Oliver’s booking for the French stayer, Americain has firmed into the $6 favourite for the Melbourne Cup at the expense of Caulfield Cup winner Dunaden who is now out to $7 just in front of English stayer Mount Athos at $8 while Maluckyday and Red Cadeaux share the next line of betting at $11.