Yesterday at almost the same time two men who had done a bad thing, one very much worse than the other, used almost identical excuses.
In Sydney Paul Douglas Peters, the so-called “Collar bomb hoaxer” was sentenced to 13 years in jail for the 10 hours of sheer terror and year of tough recovery he unleashed on 18-year-old schoolgirl Madeleine Pulver in her family home last year.
In Melbourne champion jokey Damien Oliver copped an 8-month ban from racing after he admitted betting $10,000 against his own ride - a cardinal sin of the track.
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Eight months. That’s jockey Damien Oliver’s laughably soft penalty for bringing an entire sport into disrepute. He won’t even miss a Spring Carnival. That’s like suspending a football player for the off-season. What a joke.
In 2010, the AFL suspended a lowly interchange steward for a whole year after he placed a whopping total of $9 in bets. It was heavy-handed, but it sent the clear message that anyone employed by the AFL, no matter how tangentially, must not bet on it.
Racing had the chance to send an even stronger message today. When one of the most famous names in your sport bets the equivalent of an overseas trip on a rival horse, it’s a rare opportunity to go medieval.
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Do you remember where you were when Damien Oliver won the Cup on Media Puzzle? I was at a particularly pissy lunch in Canberra and the room choked up as, struggling to keep it together, Oliver dedicated the win to his brother Jason, who had died a week before in a barrier trial.
Today, Oliver lines up on the equal favourite Americain. He stands accused of possibly the worst crime a jockey can commit – outlaying a $10,000 bet on a rival horse in a race at Moonee Valley in 2010. Let’s be clear on this: Oliver was on the second favourite, Europa Point, paying $3.80. He bet on Miss Octopussy ($2.30), the favourite and eventual winner, earning him $23,000. Oliver’s horse finished sixth.
Europa Point’s connections will rightly want to know if one of the country’s champion jockeys ran dead on their horse. There’s no proof yet to suggest he did – but they have a right to know if this was the case.
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