Damien Oliver said he had resorted to binge drinking at the time but had since received psychological treatment and had attended drug and alcohol counselling. Photo: Vince Caligiuri
The Victorian government will scrutinise racing authorities over an investigation that led to champion jockey Damien Oliver being banned from riding for 10 months for making a $10,000 bet on a rival horse in 2010.
Racing Minister Denis Napthine said he was concerned about allegations of mishandling and delays in the Oliver inquiry, which had a “negative impact” when they arose during the Melbourne Cup carnival. “It is absolutely critical the public is made fully aware of the details of the handling of this high profile and potentially industry-damaging matter,” Dr Napthine said.
The government has asked the State’s Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna, to examine the handling of the Oliver investigation by Racing Victoria, which is owned by race clubs.
Mr Oliver on Tuesday blamed a mixture of personal and psychological pressures for his making the $10,000 bet on a rival horse in 2010.
He told a Racing Victoria inquiry he had been going through marital problems at the time he placed the bet via a third party named as well-known form analyst Mark Hunter.
An emotional Mr Oliver read from a statement, describing the period when his wife left him, with their three children, as the worst in his life.
“I felt despondent and had lost my belief in my ability,” Mr Oliver said. “It was a highly stressful time. I feared I would lose my marriage.”
He said he had resorted to binge drinking but had since received psychological treatment as well as drug and alcohol counselling. The bet was a one-off and “I didn’t consult any other jockey or trainer”.
Mr Oliver placed the bet on Miss Octopussy, the winner of a race at Moonee Valley in which the jockey rode sixth-placed Europa Point. About $11,000 in winnings was passed to him by trainer Robert Smerdon, who got the cash from Mr Hunter.