Australian Bloodstock co-director Luke Murrell has praised the judgement of Newcastle trainer Kris Lees after two-time Melbourne Cup runner Red Cardinal's victory in the group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000 metres) at Rosehill on Saturday.
The seven-year-old made it two wins from two starts for Lees after coming from the banned Victorian trainer Darren Weir.
Red Cardinal was last across the line in the 2018 Melbourne Cup but won first-up in the listed Parramatta Cup (1900m) on soft ground before repeating the effort on heavy on Saturday.
The Irish-bred gelding was early favourite for the 2016 Melbourne Cup after Hunter syndicators Australian Bloodstock bought him, but he missed quarantine because of illness. He was 11th in the race in 2017 and had his best result before coming to Lees when third in the St Leger last October.
Lees was now targeting the $1.5 million Tancred Stakes (2400m) and next month's Sydney Cup (3200m).
"He's been very fortunate that his two runs for us have been on soft ground which is a much preferred surface for him," Lees said. "He has always been a horse that is highly regarded, he ran in two Melbourne Cups on firm ground, now he is in at the right time."
While Lees pointed to the wet-track chances, Murrell said the trainer deserved plenty of credit.
"His ability to say, we've seen in the past he's not a 1200 or 1400-metre horse - a lot of trainer would start him out at that," Murrell said. "But he's gone bang, first-up on a soft track over 1900, and there's very few trainers in Australia that would do that. I place a lot of that to Fred's credit. And it's better for the horse. You put them in their right distance range and they are happy, and that's the way he's racing."
He was also thrilled with the third-place effort of Princess Posh in the group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m), where Lees also trained second-placed El Dorado Dreaming. He said Princess Posh will next target the Emancipation Stakes.
Lees-trained Le Romain ran fourth to boom filly Mystic Journey in the $5 million All-Star Mile at Flemington.
** Gosford's Provincial Championships qualifier will be held Thursday at Newcastle after Saturday's wash-out.
Murrell, meanwhile, was eyeing another Melbourne Cup shot with Red Cardinal.
"They've been a bonus these two wins because he's a proper stayer, a 2400 metre horse," he said.
"The first Melbourne Cup, he chipped a knee, and when the horse got the bad check last year, [jockey Damien] Oliver reckoned he took fright and got his tongue over the bit and couldn't breathe. It looks shocking on paper but it was just bad luck."
Kerrin McEvoy, who rode Red Cardinal in the 2017 Melbourne Cup, was aboard on Saturday.
"He's always been a lovely horse, I rode him in one of his Melbourne Cups out here, so it's nice to get back on him and get a win on him," McEvoy said.
"He was very game. As soon as I asked him he picked up and really went through that ground."