West Australian jockey Damien Oliver says he has a greater appreciation for his position in racing after serving a 10-month suspension for betting on a rival horse but he won't try to change people's opinions of him if he wins today's Melbourne Cup.
Oliver will ride race favourite Fiorente and is hoping to win his third Melbourne Cup. He won the race aboard Media Puzzle in 2002 and on Doriemus in 1995.
Oliver was suspended from November last year until September for betting $10,000 on rival horse Miss Octopussy in 2010.
He said that being sidelined for such a long period made him realise what he was really missing.
"It just makes you appreciate the role you have in racing," Oliver said "I'm really enjoying my comeback to riding.
"I kept myself reasonably fit while I was out but I just enjoyed myself as far as eating and drinking like normal people do for a while. I put on a little bit of weight and then I had to take it off for the comeback again.
"It's all gone well. I missed that adrenaline run that you get with racing and being part of the racing industry."
Some critics argued Oliver should have been suspended for longer because his ban did not force him to miss the biggest and most lucrative races.
But Oliver said he was not concerned about what type of reception he would get if Fiorente won.
"I can't predict what people will think and it's out of my control," Oliver said. "I can't worry about that. I'll just be thrilled if I do happen to win it. People have their opinion regardless and that's up to them. I can't change what people think. I've just got to go out there and do my best."
Oliver's manager Neil Pinner said the 40-year-old's professional approach had guaranteed he returned in good condition.
Pinner said the time out of the saddle had given Oliver renewed energy. "He's just turned 40 and Jimmy Cassidy is 50 and riding as well as he's ever ridden," Pinner said. "I see the next 10 years for Damien being really, really positive."
Trainer Gai Waterhouse quickly signed Oliver to ride Fiorente after his suspension was completed. She has finished second in the Melbourne Cup three times and is desperate to go one better.
Oliver said Waterhouse's support for him had been amazing and he wanted to reward her with a strong performance today.
"It'd be great for Gai Waterhouse to win it," Oliver said.
"She's gone close a few times. She's done so much for racing and I'd be thrilled if I could be the one that could help her win it.
"A lot of people deserve to win it but they don't hand them out. You've got to earn them and you need a lot to go your way."Oliver said Waterhouse had been a great supporter of his and given him some good opportunities so it would be good to win the Cup for her.