Champion jockey Damien Oliver has again rewritten the record books by claiming a ninth Scobie Breasley Medal – a staggering 22 years since his first – at Monday's Victorian Jockey and Trainer Awards.
Oliver, who won the inaugural Scobie Breasley Medal in 1996, was adjudged the premier metropolitan rider of the 2017-18 season by Racing Victoria (RV) Stewards, polling 54 votes to claim the coveted award during today’s ceremony at The Park, in Albert Park, where the star performers of the past 12 months were celebrated.
Other notable winners include Irish horseman Joseph O’Brien, who took the Fred Hoysted Medal for his outstanding training performance in becoming the youngest winner of the Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) with Rekindling; and Damian Lane, who went home with the Victorian Jockeys’ Premiership trophy (129 wins) and was voted by his fellow riders as the ‘Most Valuable Jockey’ in a new category.
Young gun Ethan Brown, 19, was the other to shine claiming the inaugural peer-voted ‘One To Watch’ award after a breakthrough season which also saw him claim his first Victorian Metropolitan Apprentice Jockeys’ Premiership (49 wins).
But it was Oliver who was the toast of the town after receiving Victorian racing’s most prestigious accolade for a record ninth time, following his previous Scobie Breasley Medal wins in 1996, 1999, 2001 (joint with Brett Pebble), 2002, 2003 (joint with Kerrin McEvoy), 2004, 2014 and 2015.
The evergreen 46-year-old was a convincing winner of the award, gaining 10 more votes than his nearest challenger, five-time winner Craig Williams (44), with Lane (36) filling third place.
With votes awarded on 3-2-1 basis at each metropolitan meeting, Oliver polled on 26 occasions with his Group 1 win on Grunt in the Australian Guineas at Flemington in March 2018 one of nine occasions on which he claimed the three-vote.
Apprentice jockeys Brown and Ben Allen – neither of whom were born when Oliver claimed his inaugural Scobie Breasley Medal – filled the top five placings with 34 and 29 votes respectively.
Williams, who was favoured by many to claim his sixth Scobie Breasley Medal, did not leave empty-handed, claiming his third consecutive Roy Higgins Medal after landing the most wins (63) on metropolitan tracks for the 2017-18 season.
It was the seventh occasion that Williams has won the Victorian Metropolitan Jockeys’ Premiership, placing him behind only Higgins and Bill Duncan on 11 titles and Oliver on 10.
Like Williams, Allen was also recognised on the day for his efforts in winning the Victorian Apprentice Jockeys’ Premiership with 79 winners. It was the second time the 19-year-old has claimed the award, having first done so in 2016.
Over 40 members of the racing media were asked to cast their vote in the Fred Hoysted Medal, and it was young Irish trainer O’Brien who topped the poll with 107 votes to become only the second international winner of the award after German Andreas Wohler in 2015.
Like Wohler, O’Brien was rewarded for winning the Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington, having turned perceived wisdom on its head by guiding Northern Hemisphere three-year-old Rekindling to glory without having a lead-up run on Australian soil.
The victory was made all the more notable by the fact that Johannes Vermeer, the horse Rekindling beat into second place, was saddled by Joseph’s father Aidan O’Brien, arguably the world’s leading trainer.
Second place in the Fred Hoysted Medal – for the third consecutive year – went to Chris Waller, who received 94 votes for training Winx to a third straight Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley; whilst the Lindsay Park team of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig finished third with 72 votes, in recognition of their Super Saturday Group 1 double at Flemington with Redkirk Warrior (Newmarket Handicap, 1200m) and Harlem (Australian Cup, 2000m).
The 2015 Fred Hoysted Medal winner, Darren Weir, was rewarded for another record-breaking season, claiming both the Victorian Trainers’ Premiership and the Metropolitan Trainers’ Premiership for the fifth consecutive year with personal bests 435 and 153 winners respectively.
The one prize Weir could not win was the Colin Alderson Rising Star Award, open to Victorian-licensed trainers aged 40 or younger who have held their licence for seven years or less. The award was presented to Wodonga-based Craig Widdison, who went out on his own in November 2016 after commencing his training career in partnership with Peter Morgan.
Widdison, who visited the winners’ circle at Flemington and Sandown last season, continued his emergence as a young training talent crossing the Murray River to win March’s Listed Albury Cup with Willi Willi and claim a treble on the day.
The Tommy Corrigan Medal recognises the standout rider in jumps races across Victoria and South Australia throughout the season, and Irish jockey Martin Kelly is celebrating his first win – three years after finishing runner-up to Steven Pateman.
With votes issued on 2-1 basis by RV and Thoroughbred Racing SA (TRSA) Stewards after their respective meetings, Kelly finished on 21 votes to score a comfortable victory from Richard Cully (nine), with Pateman, Clayton Douglas and Lee Horner tying for third on eight votes.
The full list of winners from the 2017-18 Victorian Trainer and Jockey Awards is:
• Scobie Breasley Medal – Damien Oliver
• Fred Hoysted Medal – Joseph O’Brien (Rekindling, Melbourne Cup)
• Tommy Corrigan Medal – Martin Kelly
• Colin Alderson Rising Star – Craig Widdison
• Most Valuable Jockey – Damian Lane
• One To Watch – Ethan Brown
• Roy Higgins Medal (Metropolitan Jockeys’ Premiership) – Craig Williams (63
• Victorian Jockeys’ Premiership – Damian Lane (129 wins)
• Metropolitan Apprentices’ Premiership – Ethan Brown (49 wins)
• Victorian Apprentices’ Premiership – Ben Allen (79 wins)
• Metropolitan Trainers’ Premiership – Darren Weir (153 wins)
• Victorian Trainers’ Premiership – Darren Weir (435 wins)