The kid from the West. Damian Oliver. On my journey of race calling Ollie was a constant. Arriving here as the raw teen on loan to a fledging young trainer called Lee Freedman at Flemington in the later eighties. The Freedman brothers had spotted a young talent in the West, the kid was born to ride, his brother Jason was a top rider in the West, his dad Ray was a highly successful jockey also in WA, tragically killed in a race fall. Ollie hungered for success from way back then, riding the country circuits here, the brothers Freedman were rising stars but tough markers and the new kid had to earn his stripes. He messed up and he slaughtered them along the way and at the same time he learn’t in the toughest riding comp in Australia.
His greatest asset was his competitiveness not only in race riding but every sport he tackled. I watched him for 35 years rise and rise again to mould into a supreme world class jockey.
To see the great wins in the cups, the genius in the saddle, the ability to read the race play was something only the elite gifted have. The monumental moments of the cup in 2002 with Media Puzzle, losing his brother Jason to a death that took their dad, the steely zeal he showed with the perfect ride to win the cup for Ireland and Dermot Weld. The post race scenes and there was not a dry eye anywhere, especially in the caller’s box.
Watching him on the global runway at Royal Ascot, Dubai, Japan and HK, he held his own and beat the best.
So it comes down now to his farewell in Melbourne and the hometown Perth in December.
3,000 plus winners, record 128 Group 1 wins. 10 premierships, record Scobie Breasley medals, Racing Hall Of Fame. The grand slam of the great races 3 Melbourne Cups 4 Caulfield Cups, the Cox Plates and Derbies and the Oaks and Slipper. He took them all. There have been none better in our sport for the past 50 years. I’m glad I was there to watch it and to share it. Well done Ollie you epitomised what champions are made of in their chosen field. We salute you on a stellar unequalled career.