sport

Damien Oliver banned

Top Australian jockey Damien Oliver has been disqualified for eight months and suspended for a further two months.

Appearing before Racing Victoria stewards, where he faced two charges, Melbourne Cup-winning rider Oliver, 40, admitted to betting on a rival horse.

Oliver made admissions to stewards about placing a

AUD10,000 bet via a third party on Miss Octopussy, the winner of a race at Moonee Valley in October 2010, leading to the eight-month disqualification.

Oliver, who was sixth on second-favourite Europa Point, was also charged with having in his possession, and using, a mobile phone in the jockeys' room prior to the race, for which the stewards handed him a two-month suspension.

Oliver is best known in Europe for riding Dermot Weld's 2002 Melbourne Cup winner Media Puzzle.

During his disqualification, Oliver, who said he had been under enormous stress at the time due to problems with his marriage, will be banned from all stables and racetracks, but will be able to return to track work during the two-month suspension period that follows.

Quoted on www.news.com.au, he said: "I want to apologise to the racing industry and everyone here today. I am deeply sorry for my actions."

Racing Victoria Chairman Michael Duffy said: "It is my belief that the penalty delivered in today's stewards' inquiry was appropriate given the cooperation afforded by Mr Oliver and the matters put forward on his behalf in mitigation of penalty.

"The result of today's stewards' inquiry has sent a powerful message to the jockey profession that there is a zero tolerance of any breaches of the prohibition on betting.

"The matter involving Damien Oliver and Miss Octopussy is now closed. However, it should be noted that the Committee's inquiries into other matters raised during the investigation are ongoing."