Oliver to bow out with a ride for Gai Waterhouse

By:
Scott Mcglynn
30/11/2023
Horse Racing Betting Tips
Horse Racing News
Oliver to bow out with a ride for Gai Waterhouse

The Northerly Stakes on December 9 at Ascot will see Oliver ride in the final Group 1 of his career.

News Insights

  • Oliver will bow out in Perth, where he is from
  • 126 Domestic Group 1 wins for Oliver
  • The Northerly Stakes will be his final Group 1 ride
  • Zoumon will see Oliver team up with Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott

It was back in August that Damien Oliver announced his plan to retire in December, and with that month just a couple of days away, his final mount in a Group 1 race was announced. He will get the leg up on Zoumon for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott in the Northerly Stakes at Ascot on December 9.

The full circle is almost complete, as the final Group 1 ride for Damien Oliver was announced earlier this week. The decision to retire back on his old home turf has all the makings of a storybook ending, but a final Group 1 winner would be the cherry on the cake. It will be fascinating to see how the horse racing bookmakers price up the chances of Zoumon next week.

Zoumon

A very early show has Zoumon as a $9.00 chance, joint third in the betting for the 2023 Northerly Stakes behind Zaaki and Zipaway. The bottom end of the alphabet is getting a real workout here. Could we have an all-Z trifecta on December 9?

The 1800m distance of the Group 1 is a little on the short side for Zoumon who showed winning form at distances up to 2400m in his last preparation but he ran a massive race over this same distance in the Five Diamonds at Rosehill when he was last in race action.

He enjoys setting the fractions off the front end and he almost escaped, just run down by 0.2l on that occasion in an open field. There will be some pressure on him up front at Ascot, with Zaaki also liking to race close to the pace, so an inside draw to use up as little fuel in the early stages would be a big help to his race chance.

Waterhouse & Bott

One of the most famous stables in Australia, the team needs no introduction, especially after Waterhouse was recently upgraded to a legend in the Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Winners flow out of their stable at a remarkable rate, enjoying an excellent start to the 2023/24 season with multiple Group 1 successes already this campaign.

Sending runners to Western Australia is not a regular occurrence for the stable, and those that Waterhouse has sent west in her time with a license have not been as successful as those who have raced closer to home. 

Oliver only had seven rides for the stable last season, finishing second on three, the best they did as a team. They have done better this season - a winner and a second from just three runners together is a smart return ahead of them joining forces again at Ascot.

Ascot Races

Although the 1800m trip is short enough for Zoumon, the 300m uphill straight at Ascot makes it a proper test at the distance, and if Oliver can get the splits right, being on one who stays further might be no bad thing on the front end.

One of the oldest tracks on the circuit, with the first meeting nearby in 1848, is a place with tremendous horse racing history. More history in the Northerly Stakes would seem apt at this course.

It would be some story if Oliver could add one final domestic Group 1 to his tally before he hangs up his saddle for good. There are very few across the sport who would begrudge him one last day in the sun before retirement, and we hope that the scenes from Ascot will tell a Hollywood ending next week.