Damien Oliver not ready to retire

His first Group 1 winner came more than three decades ago, but Damien Oliver has shown no signs of stopping by posting his 127th Group 1 victory at Royal Randwick last Saturday.

His win on the Matthew Smith-trained Nimalee in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes overtakes champion hoop George Moore for the most Group 1 winners in the history of Australian racing, and Oliver sees no reason why he should hang up the saddle just yet.

When asked if retirement was looming for the 49 year-old by SEN’s Andrew Bensley on Monday morning, Oliver explained that he was still enjoying being in the irons.

“A lot of people keep asking me this, they seem to want to get me retired,” Oliver quipped.

“But (I’m) still riding well and riding good winners. As long as I’m still getting the opportunities there to ride good horses and I’m feeling well and happy enough with the way I’m riding, I’ll keep going for a little longer yet.

“It doesn’t stop you, as long as you still got your commitment to do your job and you’re happy doing it. Age is no barrier that’s for sure.”

Oliver boasts the ‘Grand Slam’ of Australian racing with wins in the Cox Plate (Dane Ripper and Northerly), Caulfield Cup (Mannerism, Paris Lane, Doriemus and Sky Heights), Melbourne Cup (Doriemus, Media Puzzle and Fiorente) and Golden Slipper (Forensics) and is thankful for the support he has been given along the way.

Riding for powerhouse stables like Lee Freedman, Gai Waterhouse and Bart Cummings over the time is not lost on the pilot of over 3,000 winners.

“There’s been a lot of really good horses over the years and I suppose when it’s happening, you don’t take it for granted, but it’s a great position to be in,” Oliver said.

“You can see the position like James Mcdonald is in at the moment, and probably Jamie Kah , they’ve got the pick of a lot of the good rides. That happens when you’re in the prime of your career.

“You’re riding well, you’re getting good opportunities. You really want to make the most of them.

“I feel very lucky that I was able to ride so many good horses, for so many good trainers, during that period of my career.”

He had been sitting equal with Gary Moore on 126 Group 1 winners since late last year, but Oliver was completely unaware of the history he had just created on the weekend.

“I actually hadn’t really thought of it,” Oliver said.

“Obviously last spring I knew I had equalled the record, but it was kind of off my radar a little bit. It wasn’t something I was thinking about.”

“I thought my better chances were probably more in the minor races. I was certainly more than happy to salute and get the record there on Saturday.”

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