Jockey's wager brings suspension

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)

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Leading Australian jockey Damien Oliver has been banned from racing for 10 months after he admitted placing a $10,000 bet on a rival horse.

Oliver, who has twice won Australia's richest race — the Melbourne Cup — pleaded guilty at a hearing on Tuesday to placing the bet on the winning horse in a race in Melbourne in October 2011. The horse Oliver rode in the same race finished sixth.

Stewards imposed an eight-month suspension on Oliver, to be followed by a two-month limited suspension during which he will be allowed to ride track work.

Oliver apologized for his action, saying his lack of judgment should not reflect on jockeys or the racing industry.

The 40-year-old rider told stewards the betting incident happened after his wife had left him, taking their three children.

Oliver said he was in emotional turmoil and had developed a drinking problem. He placed the best on the horse Miss Octopussy, which won as favorite, returning $23,000 for his $10,000 bet.


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"It was probably the worst period in my life," Oliver said. "I was now living alone and unsure if I would be able to save my marriage.

"The loss and loneliness had even taken away my own self-belief."

Oliver apologized for his actions which, he said, "I will regret for the rest of my career and beyond."

"There were a lot of difficult personal issues going on in my life at the time. However, there are no excuses for the fact that I breached the trust of many people in the industry and I broke a fundamental rule of racing."

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