Trish Oliver on Family Life and Being Wife to Champion Jockey Damien Oliver

Behind every great man is a woman, but Trish Oliver is much more than just that. Playing wife to perhaps Australia’s greatest jockey takes strength, and even more so when that jockey is Damien Oliver, who is no stranger to controversy.

Add three lovely kids to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a very colourful lifestyle. Trish tells us all about family life with the champion jockey — who, by the way, kicked off Spring Racing Carnival for us in a very big way by winning at the P.B. Lawrence Stakes with Miss Rose De Lago.

PREPARING FOR SPRING RACING CARNIVAL

With hard work and luck, fingers crossed Damien finds some good horses this season. Trackwork is part of the preparation, you need to be at the track, sitting on horses and talking to trainers, in the hope that they choose you to ride their good horse on race day.

The time he wakes up is varied by many factors, trainers work their horses at different times of the early morning. It depends who he is going for and for what type of work. Usually around 4:30 am, but that’s not a rule. He doesn’t often eat breakfast.

Competitiveness to extremes can’t be created, it’s instinctive, Damien has this in bucket loads. This and his preparation, I believe, take Damien to the top level in his sport. 

Trish Oliver Damien Oliver Spring Racing Carnival | Track Mode | Spring Carnival 2016

Trish Oliver and Damien Oliver at Spring Racing Carnival launch in 2014. Image: Getty

Race day is very exciting, we have made some wonderful friendships through racing and I always enjoy catching up with them on race day. You will never see him or any of us wear green to the racetrack. That’s the only rule. 

I don’t think he would say nervous, more excited. Nerves are for the junior riders, he’s a senior now. 🙂 

Races can be memorable or special in many different ways to us, and we have so many favourites!!! Media Puzzle (Melbourne Cup #2) was of course very special as it allowed Damien to honour his beloved brother after he passed away, but others hold special places in our hearts, too!

We celebrate a win with dinner and champagne of course! 

ON FAMILY LIFE, THE FUTURE, AND PUBLIC SCRUTINY

Most importantly I am a mum of our three beautiful children. I do have other roles within Damien’s business and my own interests, but our children is my highest priority. 

(Being a mother of three is) not hard, but sometimes I feel like we need a couple of me. I’m sure every mother feels that at times she needs to split into two or three to get things done…


“Our oldest two are girls and I think they realise how hard it is for their dad, and how hard it is for girls to compete against males in this sport.”


I love everything about being a mother but especially watching them do what they love! I am so proud to watch them play sport or speak at school or perform in the school production, whatever is happening at the time!

Sundays are our family day. Damien usually takes our son to footy, maybe a bike ride as a family and a roast dinner together.

Trish Oliver Damien Oliver Spring Racing Carnival | Track Mode | Spring Carnival 2016

Trish Oliver and family during the launch of ‘Relaxed Racing’ carnival on February 2016. Image: Getty

We never seem to have as much time as the kids get older but we love getting down to our beach house in Jan Juc and go to the beach together.

There are so many wonderful restaurants in Melbourne, (Damien and I) love to just have a meal together and a nice bottle of champagne and talk.


“The racing industry can be cutthroat but it can also be very caring. When anyone is hurt or going through a tough time we come together to support each other.”


Our oldest two are girls and I think they realise how hard it is for their dad, and how hard it is for girls to compete against males in this sport. There aren’t many professional sports that women and men compete on a level playing field. It is great that Michelle Payne has lifted the profile of female jockeys in recent times.

And our son is only 6 so of course he wants to be like his dad, but doesn’t every 6 year old!  

Trish Oliver Damien Oliver Spring Racing Carnival | Track Mode | Spring Carnival 2016

Trish Oliver and son Luke applaud after Damien’s win at Moonee Valley in 2013. Image: Colleen Petch

Of course any time someone you love is under intense scrutiny it does affect you, but just like in many parts of life, friends get you through it. The racing industry can be cutthroat but it can also be very caring. When anyone is hurt or going through a tough time we come together to support each other.

PERSONAL STYLE

I have no idea how you would describe my style and I don’t really think about it to be honest, I have to be comfortable and warm. I usually go to Nina for any help!

When I am in London I can’t walk past the Ted Baker store without stocking up! Their outfits just seem to suit the races.

Kim Fletcher has always been my favourite milliner, she is such a talented and kind lady.

This interview has been edited for clarity and flow. 

Track Mode is a horse racing and fashion site founded and curated by Nina O’Brien. Subscribe to our newsletter to get exclusive race day fashion edits straight to your inbox! You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google+.

Treat yourself to our guide to Spring Racing Carnival 2016 to get the best out of the season! You’ll find racing fashion inspiration, guides to horse racing, and more interviews with the most important personalities in the horse racing industry.

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