Jockey change for Ice Chariot in Moonee Valley Cup

Hall Of Fame jockey Damien Oliver will be a surprise new rider for Queenslander Ice Chariot in the Group Two Moonee Valley Cup on Saturday.

Damien Oliver

Ice Chariot is trained by Toowoomba’s Ron Maund for whom Oliver won the Listed D’Urban Quality (1700m) at Caulfield on the six-year-old in September last year.

South African rider Glyn Schofield has been Ice Chariot’s regular rider this campaign having partnered him in three Sydney starts for three placings before finishing eighth to Godolphin’s All The Good in last Saturday’s Group One Caulfield Cup (2400m).

Maund insisted Schofield had not been sacked as Ice Chariot’s rider in the 2500-metre feature on Cox Plate day and did not rule him out of returning to ride the son of Semipalatinsk in next month’s Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

“It’s always been a race-by-race thing with riders for Ice Chariot,” Maund said.

“Schofield didn’t do anything wrong in the Caulfield Cup and he hasn’t been sacked.

“It’s just that we’ve gone for Oliver in the Moonee Valley Cup because of his experience on the track.”

Maund is keeping open a Melbourne Cup jockey for Ice Chariot who has pulled up in fantastic order following the Caulfield Cup.

“He’s been wading every morning at the beach since the Caulfield Cup and he’s recovered well,” Maund said.

“I wasn’t disappointed with his Caulfield Cup run and he picked up $75,000 for finishing eighth which will pay for his expenses in Melbourne.

“He was in a good position in midfield early in the Caulfield Cup but then he ran into traffic and got pushed back to near last on the home turn and was only beaten a little over four lengths.”

Maund admits starting Ice Chariot in the Melbourne Cup was like having a ticket in the lottery.

“It looks like it’s going to be a great year for the imports in the Melbourne Cup,” he said.

“The overseas trainers now know what it takes to win our big races and it’s going to be tough on our locals.

“We’re probably taking a big bite of the cherry going to the Melbourne Cup but we’ve decided to give it another go.”

Maund has held off engaging a Melbourne Cup rider for Ice Chariot who was only a four-year-old when he beat just one runner home in the 2006 Cup won by Japan’s Delta Blues.

Ice Chariot missed last year’s Caulfield and Melbourne Cups after sustaining a slight suspensory injury following his D’Urban Quality victory.

“I’m sitting on the fence regarding a Melbourne Cup rider,” he said.

“It’s a race with a high attrition rate as we experienced ourselves last year when Ice Chariot broke down.”

Oliver’s Melbourne Cup mount is English stayer Mad Rush who ran an eye-catching trial for the 3200-metre feature when fourth in the Caulfield Cup.

By Glenn Davis