Disappointment in Red Cardinal finishing last past the post in the Melbourne Cup (3200 metres) was tempered by relief for Hunter owners that he was sound after the race on Tuesday.
The Darren Weir-trained seven-year-old gelding was 23rd, 70 lengths off winner Cross Counter. Jockey Damien Oliver pulled the distressed galloper out at the back of the field as the chasers started their run on the home turn.
Red Cardinal chipped a knee bone running on a firm Flemington surface last year in the Cup and finished 11th. Australian Bloodstock director Luke Murrell was concerned his horse was seriously injured on Tuesday late in the race.
“He got his tongue over the bit and basically his tongue choked him, so he couldn't breathe,” Murrell said. “He'll be fine, though. He just needs to wear a tongue tie and he'll go again. He’s never had that issue, it's just a quirky thing.”
Heavy rain early in the day gave Red Cardinal a suitable soft 6 surface and he jumped from gate five, but Oliver said his mount didn’t settle.
“He just raced a little bit too keen on the slow pace and when it was time to go he just didn’t have enough air to finish the race off," Oliver said.
Murrell said Red Cardinal would likely spell but he could also race at the Sandown carnival this month.
Australian Bloodstock finished fourth last year in the Cup with Big Duke, which qualified this year but was withdrawn after failing to fire this preparation.
Newcastle Jockey Club chairman Geoff Barnett and his wife Maureen are part of the ownership of Red Cardinal and Big Duke.