Damien Oliver will replace Sydney's leading jockey Nash Rawiller on Fiorente in both the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup.
Oliver was to have ridden the horse in Saturday's Turnbull Stakes but he was suspended at Moonee Valley 10 days ago.
Rawiller's relationship with trainer Gai Waterhouse continues to erode and rumours of the switch surfaced late last week. Neither Oliver nor the Waterhouse stable have confirmed the change of riders, but it is understood it is as good as done.
Rawiller had ridden Fiorente - the new Melbourne Cup favourite - in all three runs so far this spring, including a remarkable last-to-first victory in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley two weeks ago.
But the horse was the last major player from the Waterhouse yard that Rawiller was still on this spring. Their relationship had soured following the highly publicised More Joyous scandal involving owner John Singleton after the Queen of the Turf Stakes in April.
It is understood that the Waterhouse-Rawiller relationship became even more strained after the Turnbull Stakes, in which Fiorente flew home for second behind Happy Trails. Fairfax Media believes that Waterhouse and the majority of Fiorente's owners were keen to make the change.
Ironically, Oliver decided not to ride Happy Trails this spring, presenting Dwayne Dunn with the mount. Rawiller, a former Victorian, gave up rides at Sydney's two richest spring carnival meetings to ride Fiorente in Melbourne, missing last month's $1 million Golden Rose and Saturday's Epsom-Metropolitan meeting at Randwick.
In another twist, Rawiller is expected to ride Fiorente's stablemate, Divine Calling, in Saturday's Caulfield Guineas, replacing Oliver who will partner the Tony Vasil-trained Prince Harada.
Oliver has ridden Divine Calling to two wins in Melbourne in the lead-up to the guineas.
Sydney trainer Chris Waller is poised to have a big impact on the spring carnival with two strong contenders, Royal Descent and Hawkspur, in the Caulfield Cup. "Royal Descent was knocked from pillar to post [on Saturday], but I'm not too concerned,'' Waller said on Sunday.