Ollie’s first winner saddle to go under the hammer for charity

Legendary jockey Damien Oliver has urged Call of the Card punters to dig deep for charity on Melbourne Cup Eve for a rare piece of Australian racing memorabilia.

Oliver has donated the saddle he used to ride his first ever winner, $21 shot Mr Gudbud at Bunbury in 1988, as a 15-year-old apprentice jockey.

The triple Melbourne Cup-winner used the “antique” early in his illustrious career, which has netted more than 3100 wins and an Australian record 129 Group 1s.

The proceeds of the auction will go to Equine Pathways Australia and Melbourne Racing Club Foundation’s Life After Racing Program.

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“It’s a very treasured possession, you might call it an antique by now I suppose,” Oliver, 51, said.

“I was 15-year-olds when I rode my first winner, I was about 36kg wringing wet so it’s quite a heavy saddle … I used it for maybe the first five to 10 years of my career.

“So it’s not only that winner (Mr Gudbud) but a lot of winners ridden in it, as I got heavier it got put in mothballs so to speak.”

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EPA supports athletes with disabilities, including Paralympians, who wish to engage or re-engage with horses.

Life After Racing helps people from the racing industry who, through illness or injury, are unable to work or ride to the extent they may had previously.

The charities’ work is close to Oliver’s heart and passion for sharing his love of horses.

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“It would be nice to raise as much (as possible), it’s a one off piece, there will never be another saddle I rode my first winner in, and so it’s quite a collector’s item,” Oliver said.

“It will be great to race some good money for a charity that’s worthwhile, helping people with disabilities and giving them some satisfaction in life riding some horses.”

Oliver will be a special guest at the Call of the Card, an annual event at Crown Casino on November 6, where Melbourne’s biggest bookmakers take bets on the Cup.

“I thought it’s the best way to maximise the money we could raise for them (charities), being a worthwhile item and something historic, that would really appeal to a lot of people,” Oliver said.

“The charities do great work getting people with disabilities involved with and riding horses, it’s something pretty close to me and I think horses are such good therapy for people.

“You can see the reactions when they’re with horses and the pleasure it gives them.”

Oliver will officially launch the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington on Monday along with Michelle Payne and Gai Waterhouse.

Credit: Gilbert Gardiner, Racenet

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