Jockey Damien Oliver has enjoyed a fairytale end to his 35-year career in the saddle, winning his farewell race in stunning fashion.
Originally from Western Australia, Oliver celebrated a famous win in front of friends and family.
It capped a perfect day for Oliver, who won the final three races he contested after earlier wins aboard Devine Belief and Magnificent Andy at Ascot.
‘I couldn’t think of a better way to finish it,’ Oliver said.
Damien Oliver has had a fairytale finish to his career by winning his final three races
The champion jockey says he couldn’t think of a better way to finish his career
‘It was death or glory at the top of the straight.
‘I had a bit of confidence in this horse, he could take the gaps when they come.
‘It’s a great win, an unbelievable feeling. I couldn’t think of a better way to finish it off.’
Oliver was denied a record-equalling fourth Melbourne Cup win when he rode Alenquer in last month’s famous 3200m race at Flemington.
He conceded it had been a ‘long farewell’, but took the spotlight for the sake of promoting the sport.
‘All this attention is not really my area, but I understand it,’ Oliver said.
‘It’s been overwhelming, but the crowd here at Ascot, what a wonderful reception.
‘I think it’s the biggest crowd I’ve seen here – the applause and the roar for those last three winners, I’ll never forget it.’
The retiring star suffered a broken spine in 2005 but refused to quit the sport
Oliver, 51, has won three Melbourne Cups (Doriemus, 1995), (Media Puzzle, 2002) and (Fiorente, 2013) as well as four Caulfield Cups, two Cox Plates and a Golden Slipper, achieving a rare ‘Grand Slam’ in the sport of kings.
He will forever be remembered as the nation’s greatest ever rider, but the journey to the top has been gruelling.
The 51-year-old’s father Ray had a successful riding career of his own, but was killed in a 1975 race fall in Western Australia when Oliver was just a toddler.
Oliver was hit by a second tragedy in 2002 when his brother Jason also died in a race fall in Western Australia.
The tragic accident occurred just days before the 2002 Melbourne Cup, which Oliver astonishingly won on Irish stayer Media Puzzle.
In one of the most memorable moments in Aussie sporting history, Oliver blew a kiss to his late brother after he crossed the line.
‘You just couldn’t script that sort of thing,’ Oliver told Nine’s The Heart of Racing podcast of the incredible win.
‘It was really a sad time for me firstly, losing your brother, and that’s my main memory of it, more so the sadness of losing my brother rather than winning the Cup.
‘That was a tribute to him and something I’m glad I was able to pull off, particularly looking back on it now. At the time it was full of sadness, losing him in that week leading up to the Cup.’
Oliver blew a kiss to his brother Jason after winning the Melbourne Cup in 2002 in one of Aussie racing’s most iconic images
In 2005, Oliver had his own brush with death, falling from his horse at Moonee Valley and suffering a broken spine and a prolonged period out of the saddle.
‘If you look at the parallels that my father was killed in his early 30s, my brother similar, early 30s. I actually had a really bad fall at Moonee Valley and broke my back at a similar age, so all in our early 30s,’ he told the podcast.
‘You couldn’t think that something like that could happen.
‘You know it’s a dangerous sport when you go into it. Not many sports have an ambulance follow them around the track.
‘But there’s great rewards, and there’s great comraderies among the jockeys as well, and you know the risks when you go into it.
‘Fortunately, touch wood, I’ve been able to get through it OK.’