Champion jockey Damien Oliver has vowed to return to the saddle after serving a 10-month ban for making a “spur-of-the-moment“ $10,000 bet on a rival horse in a race in which he rode two years ago.
He has also asked for public forgiveness, declaring he has always given his mounts every chance.
Stewards today disqualified Oliver for eight months and added another two-month suspension on the betting charge.
They also suspended him for one month for using a mobile phone from inside the Moonee Valley jockeys' room to place the bet with that penalty to be served concurrently.
Oliver revealed during today's hearing his life was in turmoil and his marriage on the rocks when he made the bet.
He said he had developed a drinking problem and was battling a variety of psychological issues at the time.
“It was a spur-of-the-moment decision that I will regret for the rest of my life and beyond,” Oliver said.
“There are no excuses for the fact that I breached the trust of many people in the industry and I broke a fundamental rule in racing.
"I want people to know that while I have admitted to this serious breach and can offer no excuses, I have never in my 24 years of racing not tried my hardest to win when I am on the back of a horse.”
Oliver earlier made an emotional plea to stewards saying the bet was made during “the worst period of my life”.
The eight-times premier rider said his wife had left him and taken their three children, causing him deep grief and distress.
He said he had resorted to binge drinking and had sought psychological help and drug and alcohol counselling.
“I felt despondent and lost my self belief in my ability as a jockey,” he said.
Oliver had to pause and wipe away tears as he told the stewards he feared he had lost his wife and children.
He said his decision to place the bet was totally unplanned and he hadn't discussed it with any other jockey or trainer.
The $10,000 bet on the horse Miss Octopussy at Moonee Valley was placed on credit through form analyst Mark Hunter who passed it on to retired Queensland bookmaker Laurie Bricknell.
The profit on the bet was $11,000 and was handed by Hunter to trainer Robert Smerdon who passed the cash on to Oliver.
“It is the only time I have ever placed a bet on a rival horse,“ Oliver told the stewards.
Oliver's lawyer, Robert Richter, QC, described the jockey as “an exemplary man in the industry” who had committed a completely isolated act.
He said Oliver's deep remorse had been demonstrated by his admissions, without which the stewards would have had insufficient evidence to charge him.
Steward Rob Montgomery, who headed a three-member panel hearing the case, said the mitigating circumstances had been taken into account in coming to a penalty.
They also agreed Oliver had ridden his horse in the race in question to the best of his ability.
But he stressed racing's integrity had to be maintained and the betting public needed to have confidence in the industry.
Oliver is banned from entering racetracks, racing stables or training tracks during the first eight months of the ban, but will be allowed to ride trackwork for the final two months.
He can resume riding in races on September 13, 2013.
Champion jockey Damien Oliver has been disqualified for eight months after admitting to placing a $10,000 bet via a third party on a rival horse in a race in which he rode in 2010.
Oliver has received a further two months suspension for using a mobile phone in the area of the jockeys room against the rules.
The man who helped Oliver place the bet has been named as form analyst Mark Hunter.
At this morning's hearing in Melbourne an emotional Oliver read from a statement in a trembling voice as he told stewards that at the time of the offence in 2010 he was going through serious personal problems and described it as the “worst period of my life”.
“I felt despondent and had lost my belief in my ability as a jockey,” Oliver said.
He said he had problems with alcohol and had resorted to binge drinking at that time when his wife had left him and taken their three children with her.
“It was a highly stressful time. I feared I would lose my marriage,” he said.
He received psychological treatment and had attended drug and alcohol counselling.
He said the bet was a one-off and was made on the spur of the moment.
It was the only time I had ever placed a bet on a rival horse,“ he said.
“I didn’t consult any other jockey or trainer.”
Oliver placed the bet on Miss Octopussy, the winner of a race at Moonee Valley in which the jockey rode sixth placed Europa Point.
About $11,000 was passed on to him in cash by trainer Robert Smerdon who received the money from Hunter.
Oliver’s lawyer Robert Richter. QC, told stewards his client had an illustrious career and had been a significant contributor to the racing industry.
“He is an exemplary man in the industry and this breach was totally out of character,” he said. “He did not seek to cover up what he had done.
“There was insufficient evidence to charge him without him coming forward.”
Speaking outside the hearing, Oliver said: "Firstly I want to apologise to the racing industry and everyone here today.
"I am deeply sorry for my actions."
Asked a question, he said: "I'll make no further comment."