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Race Talk with Chris: Ageless Champions Oliver, Moreira, Dettori in Racing

05 October, 2023

Race Talk with Chris

Age shall not weary them! Should champion jockeys Damien Oliver and Joao Moreira – even Frankie Dettori – reconsider their plans to retire from race riding?

Sure, after careers that have rightfully made them global superstars, nobody should begrudge them the right to enjoy the spoils of their endeavours.  After all, they have been fronting up to ride explosive and unpredictable racehorses day in and day out since they were mere teenagers, pursuing a profession that ranks as one of the most dangerous on the planet.

To survive and come out the other side as champions says plenty about their rare natural talent in the saddle and is a credit to their dedication and intestinal fortitude to overcome the many injuries and long-term physical issues that beset jockeys.

For Oliver and Dettori it was always going to happen once they reached the wrong side of 50 while it was a sad day last year when Moreira, only 39, handed in his Hong Kong licence and later announced he would be retiring due to injury issues. For now, much to the joy of his huge fan base,  he has deferred those plans due to an improvement in his health.

 

Each has earned every right to call time on their careers at a dateline of their choosing – but the thing is racing needs them, perhaps now more than ever!

Across numerous continents (Europe, South America, Asia and Oceania) they are collectively the best-known faces of a sport/industry that relies on global mega stars of their ilk to capture the minds of the general public.

We need them to keep the masses focused on all the things that are good about racing as a counter to the angst that is generated by outspoken critics of the industry’s animal welfare and gambling issues.

Oliver, hailed as Australia’s greatest ever on the score of G1 wins, bows out at the end of the year, fittingly with a Cup Week swansong before his final farewell in Perth where it all began for him in the 1980s. The effervescent Dettori – undoubtedly the world’s best-known jockey – is making the most of a global farewell tour and is eager for a final Melbourne Cup ride days after he competes for the last time at the Breeders Cup in the US.

Magic Man Moreira is super keen to shine at the Melbourne Carnival as he knows he could be riding on borrowed time due to his recurring fitness issues.

Long may he ride after giving us a recent reminder of his superb skills with a memorable win in the Golden Rose at Rosehill, his seventh G1 win in Australia and third in this country year.

The demand from countless racing jurisdictions for Dettori, Oliver and Moreira to make guest appearances is testimony to their global appeal. An example was the way Dettori was feted at the Arc meeting at Longchamp in Paris last weekend.

  

Australia should be thankful if the “three amigos” compete together on the same stage over Melbourne Cup week.

Add possible appearances by the likes of UK champion Ryan Moore and Japan’s revered Yutaka Take – at 54 he has no retirement plans – and it would be a carnival to savour.

Such a line-up would be a promotional dream for Victorian racing, once assured of all the spring headlines but now fighting desperately for airtime and general media attention in the face of Sydney’s rebirthed spring agenda that hogs the spotlight due to its massive – some say obscene –  feature race prizemoney.

 

If Melbourne’s racing promoters know their stuff they should be ready to give Dettori, Oliver, Moreira and the company top billing as the stars of Cup Week and push the rent-a-crowd B list celebrities they drag out to help fill the social pages to the back bench.

Oliver, Dettori and Moriera deserve it.

More importantly, it would be a winner for racing on a much broader scale

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