Rising Star

Oliver is one to watch

Last Updated: 03/09/12 5:11pm

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Andy Oliver: A rising star of the training ranks

Andy Oliver: A rising star of the training ranks

Sky Bet

The victory of First Cornerstone in the Futurity Stakes was yet another feather in the cap of Northern Irish based trainer Andy Oliver who is enjoying his best season to date.

With this interminably wet summer leaving conditions on the heavy side at the Curragh, Oliver took the decision to supplement the son of Hurricane Run as he felt that neither Dawn Approach nor Mars would be risked on the ground.

That gamble paid off handsomely as his juvenile stayed on strongly to win the Group Two contest by a length and a half and add his name to a roll of honour that includes the likes of Oratorio, New Approach, Teofilo and Hawk Wing.

Oliver is a qualified vet who sent out his first runners in 2004 having previously worked for Mark Johnston where, in his position as resident vet, he was able to get an insight into all facets of the training business as well as helping out at the sales.

Since his debut season, Oliver's standing has grown year-on-year and he enjoyed a breakthrough success in Pattern company when Flowers Of Spring won a Group Three contest at Gowran Park in September who was one of a career best haul of 22 that year.

Oliver has already sent out 22 winners in Ireland this season with 14 individuals contributing to that tally with First Cornerstone and Sendmylovetorose foremost among them.

Oliver has proved adept at unearthing talent relatively cheaply and his eight maiden winners this season were all purchased for 15,000 euros or less, including the aforementioned Sendmylovetorose.

Part of Oliver's policy at the sales is to focus on the dam, her racing ability and how her progeny have done and on stallions which have a better strike-rate of winners to runners, or winners to foals or to try and uncover a young sire who has yet to fire the public's imagination.

His vet's eye plays an important role too and that came to the fore with Sendmylovetorose who has a slight dip in her back but her dam was useful and had already produced a couple of decent performers and Oliver was happy to take the chance as he didn't believe her confirmation would prevent her from running.

The daughter of Bahamian Bounty was picked up for just £5,000 at Doncaster as a yearling and has since gone on to mark herself down as one of the leading juvenile fillies of her generation.

A Group Three victory at the Curragh followed her maiden success (and an abortive trip to Royal Ascot where she became worked up in the stalls ahead of the Albany Stakes) and she then lined up at Newmarket for the Cherry Hinton Stakes where she duly became just the third Irish-trained winner of the Group Two contest.

Sendmylovetorose will now be supplemented for the Moyglare Stud Stakes while First Cornerstone has races such as the Beresford Stakes and Racing Post Trophy on his agenda and their trainer's star is firmly on the rose.

Success has not come suddenly to Oliver whose early years in the training ranks saw him selling on some of his better prospects due to financial necessity.

In 2009, a son of Dubawi showed promise in three starts for Oliver before being sold to Hong Kong after winning his maiden by five lengths on the third of them.

The horse was renamed Lucky Nine and is now a three-time Group One winner and one of the best sprinters in Hong Kong and also finished third in the Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan in March.

Such sales have played their role in establishing Oliver's reputation which received a further boost on Sunday with the victory of Punch Your Weight in the Irish Cambridgeshire.

Led out unsold at 2,500 euros as a yearling, he didn't make his debut until earlier this month but the three year old now has two wins to his name from as many starts after his impressive victory in the prestigious, not to mention valuable, handicap and his success serves as a timely reminder that his handler isn't just a bad hand with juveniles.

Indeed, in season's past Oliver has proved equally adept at purchasing and improving cast-offs from either yards but those days could soon be behind him for this is a trainer with his eye firmly fixed on the game's big prizes and he has them well within his reach.

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