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Damien Oliver: Learning From My Biggest Mistake

It was the moment that almost ruined the career of the three-time Melbourne Cup winner.

In 2012, Damien Oliver was found guilty of placing a $10,000 secret bet against himself in a horse race. This led to a 10-month ban from racing and left his reputation as a golden boy of Australian horse racing significantly tarnished.

Oliver said he was struggling to cope with a build-up of devastating life events at the time.

“I probably don't think I coped with the loss of my brother as well as I thought I had," Oliver told PickStar's Off-Field podcast.

"I (also) had the bad back injury which put me out of the saddle for 15 months and then as a consequence of that, I kind of lost the job that I had with Lee Freedman at the time.


“It was probably a build-up of things that I hadn't really acknowledged and realised had affected me as much as they had, and it was putting pressure on my personal relationship with my family and my wife, so all those things sort of combined together.

“That's what led to that event and it's something I regret, something I'm not proud of, but I did my penalty and it's something I learned a lot from, not to take for granted what I have and what I had and I was really intent on coming back and finishing off my career on a good note, and it took a while and it probably, it still hurts me for the result of what happened.”

Damien Oliver

Oliver said he learned key lessons the hard way.

“One thing that I learned from that (time) is your credibility is really important and once you lose that, you lose a lot of trust in people,” he said.

"But I've found it really important to work hard to get people's trust back and let people know that that moment doesn't define me, I acknowledge that I have made a mistake but it's important to show people to work hard and to get their trust back and finish your career of on the note that you want to.

"I can't change people's perception of what they might think of me but as long as my conscience is clear and I'm doing the right thing, that's all I can take care of.

"There's gonna be people out there that probably are not fans of me or don't trust me, I can't change that but all I can do is do my best and try and portray out there that I'm doing the best that I can every time I go out there (and race) and as long as I'm doing that and I'm comfortable with that, that's all I can control."

Damien Oliver with the PickStar/Off-Field team

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