Damien Oliver landed his first Group 1 win since announcing his impending retirement when the champion jockey partnered Alligator Blood to a second-straight win in the $750,000 Underwood Stakes.
Oliver made the most of one final ride aboard gritty on-pacer before regular rider Tim Clark returns from injury in the 1800-metre event at Caulfield.
The Underwood Stakes win – Oliver's 129th at Group 1 level – came just seven days after Alligator Blood finished runner-up to Mr Brightside in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes and Oliver is happy to make the most of every opportunity in what is his final Spring Carnival.
"You never know if that opportunity is going to come," he said.
"It was unfortunate Tim's accident and the fall, but he is on the road to recovery now and I was able to pick up this horse and I'm happy to just fill in for him while he's making his way back."
Alligator Blood and Damien Oliver conquer the Underwood, picture Racing Photos
Oliver announced earlier this season that this spring would be his last with his final day of riding back in his native Western Australia in early December.
The win on Alligator Blood, who partnered to last year's Underwood Stakes victory at Sandown by Clark, was Oliver's third win in the race following earlier successes aboard Northerly (2001) and Russian Camelot (2020).
The seven-year-old son of All Too Hard, who started $3.60 favourite and worked to the spot outside surprise leader Alenquer after 400m, saw off a challenge from Tuvalu ($7) to score by one length with Duais ($26) catching the eye late to finish just a half-neck away third.
Gai Waterhouse, who trains Alligator Blood in partnership with Adrian Bott, was thrilled that Oliver could play a part in the win of one of the country's most popular horses.
"He's not going to go out without a bang, is he?" Waterhouse said of Oliver. "He'll be like Frankie Dettori. It was a fabulous win today.
"I think going up in distance there was less pressure on and he could get into that rhythm that he is very good at.
"It's great that there are so many people here to see Alligator Blood and it's great that he could deliver. It's so exciting for everyone."
Waterhouse said Alligator Blood was now a chance to progress the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 7 with the Cox Plate (2040m) – in which he finished fifth last year – again the major spring target.