Steve: This is Steve from Calibre Fitness; I am speaking with Australian champion jockey, and my favourite jockey, Damien Oliver. How are you doing, Damien?

Damien: Yeh, well thanks, Steve.

Steve: Fantastic. Damien has had a career in horse racing that I am sure most jockeys are envious of and only ever dream about- 2 x Melbourne Cups, 4 x Caulfield Cups, 2 x Cox Plates... the list goes on. Understandably, he is in huge demand!!

Damien, a jockey must be extremely fit and strong to control the power of a thoroughbred race horse. Can you take us through a typical training week? What muscle groups do you generally focus on?

Damien: Um, yeh, riding a horse is quite unique. It's difficult to prepare yourself doing any other kind of fitness work other than actually riding a horse. You need to be quite aerobically fit, but it's a job that actually works most muscle groups in your body. I actually personally do a lot of boxing, which I find helps a lot, both with my cardio and also with the muscle groups and the strength and endurance I need. I also do a bit of bikram yoga as well.

Steve: Diet and nutrition are especially important for a jockey. What is your diet like? Do you have 'diet free' days and if so, what is at the top of your bad food list?

Damien: Haha, yeh. I've been doing a herbalife diet in recent times which I've found very helpful with stripping the weight off and keeping my body quite trim to ride the weight that I need to; I ride at about 54-55kg. I do have little breakouts occasionally, I do like having the odd beer or wine and I am partial to the odd few little sweet lollies and chocolates as well.

Steve: Haha, so you are human after all!

Damien: Absolutely.

Steve: What psychological skills have you learnt to get you through multiple races at a meeting?

Damien: Umm, I suppose focus is one important part. You need to be able to focus for certain stretches over a long period of time, so it's important to be able to switch off and relax for a time and then switch back on. Also, when you're dieting, that can be a little tricky as well, because you can find your mind start to wonder a bit and your body start to fatigue. So it's important to try to balance your day to focus at different times, but not for too long.

Steve: Yep, sure. Being a champion jockey is hard work- early mornings, strict dieting, frequent traveling. What makes you tick and all this hard work worthwhile for you?

Damien: I have quite a big desire to succeed and I suppose it's my passion for the sport too. I've grown up doing it for some time and I'm a really competitive person, so I love to compete and I love to succeed and I probably have a bit of a fear of failure as well. So it's probably all of those things that make me strive to be my best.

Steve: Just backtracking for a second to diet again, are there any tricks you use last minute to make correct weight?

Damien: Probably the sauna and sweating it out in a hot bath are the two most common methods for jockeys to drop weight.

Steve: Have you endured any particularly bad injuries during your career?

Damien: Ah yeh, a number. I've fractured my spine in two places and has a spinal fusion from T1 to T6. I've had about 3 hip operations, broken wrists, broken ankles, broken hand, broken collar bone... So yeh, quite a few.

Steve: Haha, yeah sure. I'm sure this is a tough question to answer, but who has been your favourite horse to ride and who do you think is the best horse of the modern era?

Damien: Testa Rossa was a favourite to ride, he was a really nice horse to ride. Hmmm... and the best horse of the modern era... well, probably in recent times, it'd have to be Black Caviar and Makybe Diva was pretty special as well.

Steve: Sure. You've had an incredible win rate since returning from a ban earlier this year and look incredibly focussed and determined. Was it hard coming back after such a long break and did you ever consider not returning to racing?

Damien: Um, yeh... I suppose there were moments when I may have considered not coming back, but it certainly wasn't the note that I wanted to end my career on and I wanted to come back and prove myself and finish my career on my terms. When I came back I made sure I was completely focussed, I had my body in really good shape and I was mentally in the right place as well. I was in the right frame of mind to come back and succeed.

Steve: Sure. What's the relationship like between jockeys? In the locker rooms is there more a sense of competition or camaraderie?

Damien: Probably a number of things. Definitely competition, but there's always a lot of banter among the jockeys as well. At different times of the year though as the big races come around it does get very competitive.

Steve: Yep, sure. You've been one of Australia's most successful jockey's; nearing in on 100 Career Group 1 wins which is an amazing feat. What do you consider to be the highlight of your career so far and what do you think it takes to make a great jockey?

Damien: Umm, not so much about the highlight, but probably the most memorable moment, or the moment that I'm the most well known for is my ride on Media Puzzle to win the Melbourne Cup in 2002. It takes a number of things to make a great jockey. Obviously you need to be talented rider and you need to be a good competitor. Being able to focus and adapt on a number of things in a race. You need to have good PR skills on and off the track. So yeh, there's a number of different facets to being a successful jockey.

Steve: Yeh, sure... and just finally Damien, what advice would you give to a young jockey starting out?

Damien: Just work hard and surround yourself with good people and even watch the successful jockeys to see how they apply the trade and you can learn a lot from them.

Steve: Yeh sure, that's great advice. Thanks Damien, I really appreciate your time and wish you the best for the remainder of the Spring Carnival and hopefully you can get up for your 3rd Melbourne Cup victory.

Damien: No Worries, Thanks Steve.