An Australian Racing rule change in 2017 that only affects the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups has made life a little tougher for a number of jockeys in this year's Caulfield Cup.
Prior to 2017 a 57kg minimum topweight for all Group 1 handicap races was required, but Principal Racing Authorities in each State had flexibility as to whether they raised weights at acceptance time. Racing Victoria implemented the rule for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups only and this year the Caulfield Cup topweights are Homesman (USA) and Incentivise, both on 55.5kg.
Prior to 2017 weights would have been raised to 57kg topweight, adding 1.5kg to all horses engaged in Saturday's Group 1 handicap over 2400m. That 1.5kg would have been music to the ears of Damien Oliver who is riding at his lightest in over a decade to partner Delphi on Saturday.
As it is, Oliver will ride Delphi at 53kg, 0.5kg above his allotted handicap.
"I must say a lot of the jockeys weren't happy the weights didn't go up," Oliver said. "Apparently, the argument is the internationals aren't happy that if the topweight doesn't accept, the weights go up, but that's irrelevant, it's our race and I don't see the reason in making them ride so light.
"It's all relevant if the weights go up anyway. It's not just one horse that goes up, it's all horses."
Oliver said he was tracking well to get down to 53kg having ridden at Wednesday's Thousand Guineas meeting at 54kg.
"I've been training three times a day and just eating brown rice, fruit and vegetables and fish with no salt, no sugar," Oliver said. "We're in lockdown, I can't do much else. It's the spring carnival, I'm a jockey, that's what I do.
"At 53 [kg], there won't be too much excess on me and I'll probably leave myself a little bit to lose on Saturday morning, but not too much. I've been doing it for a long time, so I know how to manage it."
Delphi is the second favourite at $8 with TAB behind Incentivise at $2.50. Oliver chose the import as his Caulfield Cup mount after winning a ballot exemption in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield last Saturday.
"I couldn't be happier with him, and a wet track doesn't seem to be an issue," Oliver said.
Damien Oliver will ride Delphi at 53kg, picture Racing Photos