Oliver’s input aids O’Brien

You get more than just elite riding skills when Damien Oliver is part of the team and Danny O’Brien can thank the Hall of Fame hoop for his 21st metropolitan winner of the season.

O’Brien revealed after Absolute Flirt’s soft first-up win in Monday’s 1000-metre Ladbrokes Handicap at Sandown that Oliver played a key role in the placement of the daughter of Stratum.

The Flemington trainer was leaning to heading to Ballarat on Tuesday with the two-year-old, but was persuaded by the 115-time Group 1 winner to chase loftier goals.

“I was potentially going to take her to Ballarat for a maiden tomorrow, but Damien said, ‘no bring her Sandown. She’ll be pretty hard to beat no matter where she steps out’,” O’Brien said.

“I do listen to him. He’ll tell you I don’t, but I do listen to him.

"He’s very, very handy to have. We have plenty of robust discussion about things and more often than not I listen to him.”

Oliver, who rode Absolute Flirt in a recent Werribee jumpout, said the distance of the Sandown event was more suitable than the 1100m of the Ballarat race at this stage of the campaign.

“She trialled really well the other day and I thought the 1000 (metres) here would really suit her,” he said.

“She hasn’t grown much but she’s improved a little bit since the spring, which is good, and it was a nice, comfortable win.”

Absolute Flirt ($4.40 fav), whose winning time of 56.90 seconds included a 32.57secs final 600m and 11.29secs final furlong, scored by 1.25 lengths from Lindsay Park filly Taraayef ($10) with Flirting ($5.50) 2.5 lengths further back third.

It was her first start since beating home all bar Yes Yes Yes, who subsequently went on to win the Group 2 Todman Stakes and started $7 in the Golden Slipper, over the straight 1100m at Flemington on December 15.

Her only other start was a debut fourth placing in the Magic Millions Clockwise Classic (1000m) at Ballarat in November and O’Brien said that unconventional early program was a mark of her nature.

“She’s very bombproof,” he said. “She’s a natural little racehorse and there’ll be more wins for her, for sure.”

O'Brien hopes the next of them is the $100,000 Listed Queen Adelaide Stakes (1050m), which will be run at Morphettville on Saturday, May 4.

“She’ll benefit from today’s hit out and hopefully we can get her to some nice races in the next month. You could see her in Adelaide next start,” he said.

Absolute Flirt's victory was the first of two at Sandown for Oliver, who rounded out the day with success aboard Savaheat for another long-time supporter, Caulfield trainer Mick Price.

The win aboard Savaheat was Oliver's 50th Victorian metropolitan winner for the season and leaves him just one astern Craig Williams in the race for the metro jockeys' premiership.


Story by Brad Bishop for Racing.com



Pic by Racing Photos