Victorian jockey Damien Oliver took out his fifth Thousand Guineas at Caulfield on Wednesday riding the Leon Corstens trained Commanding Jewel to win the 67th renewal of this $500,000, Group 1 Schweppes sponsored 1600m.
Commanding Jewel and Damien Oliver, picture Quentin Lang, quentinjlang.com
The win was poignant for Oliver after the publicity earlier this week over an alleged bet the jockey made on a horse other than his mount in a race at Moonee Valley in 2010. After the publishing of the story Oliver was taken off key upcoming mounts with the twice-winning Melbourne Cup jockey now currently without a ride in the major race on November 6th.
Wednesday’s win was decisive and Oliver did not allow the furore to distract him from guiding Commanding Jewel to perfection.
They were out well from barrier eight and then as a tussle developed for the lead Oliver eased Commanding Jewel back to sixth, first on the rails and secondly taking her to running one off the rails.
Longport and Craig Newitt led the field through the early stages of the race with the pace moderate as they went down the Railway side of the course to the final turn.
Oliver waited as the pace increased passing the 400m and then he waited again with 300m to run as he had to send Commanding Jewel into a gap that initially was not quite there. Longport was still leading but the moment that Commanding Jewel was through the gap at the 250m she showed a turn of foot that put the race away in a matter of strides.
Commanding Jewel then went onto win in dominant style with the margin 2 3/4L on the line. Dear Demi (Dehere) and Jim Cassidy came home for second with Zydeco (Zabeel) and Michael Rodd third. Longport was fourth and Stella Lante fifth.
The time was 1.37.17 on the Good 3 track with the final 600m in 35.70. Commanding Jewel paid $8.10 with the $4.70 favourite Molto Bene 10th.
Damien Oliver, picture Quentin Lang, quentinjlang.com
Corstens was asked if he had second thoughts about retaining Oliver for the ride.
“Damien is the best rider in Australia so why would I have second thoughts?” he said.
“He knows the filly so it would have been stupid to take him off and if I had have put someone else on we might not have got the same ride today.”
“He rode it unbelievable. He rode her to get the mile today and it worked out terrific,” he said.
“It was nice to draw a good gate with this filly today because she’d had a couple of wide draws and we’ve just had to use her a bit more than we would’ve liked but settling probably a spot further back she really showed a great kick today,” said Oliver.
“From a good draw today we were able to settle her and she showed a good kick.”
“I can’t thank Leon enough and there wasn’t a better looking horse in the yard. He is having great run, he is a great trainer and I’d like to thank Leon and all these owners, particularly Brad Spicer, that have stuck by me.”
“I’ve been through a lot worse than this and we’ll come through this alright,” he said.
“It’s not so much about us, it’s about Leon because he does a great job with these horses and Ollie because obviously there was a lot of pressure during the week,” said part-owner Brad Spicer
“There was no doubt in our mind that he could get the job done. We’ve been watching that horse run extraordinary sectionals at home and we’ve seen what she can do today (when) ridden quietly with a sit.”
“I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg because she will be a really nice filly next time around.”
Commanding Jewel is a three-quarter-sister to multiple Group 1 winner, including this race last year, Atlantic Jewel and Spicer commented on their dam Regard, by Zabeel, passing on.
“It’s a pity the mare has died now to carry on the tradition,” he said.
Commanding Jewel has raced just five times for three wins and two placings with stakes of $403,800 for owners Spicer, Miss D Patton, M Salvo, A Chadwick, J Donegan, G McDonald, Greenwich Stud Pty Ltd Syndicate, Harry Fyn Syndicate, Next In Line Syndicate and Wantok Racing.
Commanding Jewel, picture Quentin Lang, quentinjlang.com.au