Damien Oliver's career hangs by a thread

RACING 

Victoria's peak horse racing body is investigating the possibility that Damien Oliver isn't the only big punter in the state's riding ranks.

Racing Victoria (RV) chief executive Rob Hines said various investigations were under way, instigated by a team that monitors betting patterns on most of the 4000 races run in Victoria every year.

"There are a number of ongoing investigations," Hines said.

"Some of those may lead to inquiries and charges."

RV stewards laid long-expected charges against Oliver yesterday, three weeks after it emerged he was under investigation for placing a $10,000 bet on a rival horse and rider at a Moonee Valley meeting in October 2010.

The charges followed a written admission to a charge of betting on the horse Miss Octopussy, the favourite and winner of a race in which Oliver rode the second favourite, and to another charge of using a mobile phone while in the jockeys' room to place the bet through a third party.

The admission was tendered by Oliver to RV on Monday.

The Oliver case ranks among the most scandalous in the sport in decades, not because of the nature of the charge, but because it involves one of the world's greatest jockeys.

Oliver is one of the highest-profile jockeys in Australia, mostly for the right reasons.

The 40-year-old has won seven Melbourne jockeys' premierships, two Melbourne Cups, four Caulfield Cups, two Cox Plates and a Golden Slipper.

He has won races in almost every major racing nation, including England, Hong Kong and Japan, and has handled some of the champions of the Australian turf.

Oliver, whose father died in a race fall in Western Australia when Damien was three years old, was hit by tragedy in the lead-up to the 2002 Melbourne Cup when his older brother Jason died in a fall on the training track in Perth the week before the big race.

The day before burying Jason, he rode Media Puzzle to victory in the Cup, his kiss to the heavens as he crossed the line now a part of racing folklore.

Oliver's betting breach has generated a string of mostly unfounded claims, including one that he had made official admissions relating to the charges a week ago.

The reports prompted criticism of RV for not standing him down, and suggestions the organisation wasn't doing enough to safeguard the integrity of the industry.

RV yesterday defended itself, saying its stewards were "on the front foot" throughout the investigation and that it was legally impossible to act before Monday's admissions came to hand. The charges against Oliver will be heard on Tuesday. AAP

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